Doug’s Diaries: Brian Clough

Following on from our In2Views article with award winning columnist, broadcaster and journalist Doug Weatherall, Original Fat Bob has once again met up with him as Doug recalls his days involved with football and sportsmen at the highest level. We delve into his diaries to reveal never before told facts and intimate stories, which helps to bring back to life what it was like to meet the footballing heroes and be part of the footballing community. Doug was lucky enough to be able to share moments in those great and heady days or commiserate at the dark times that often everyone in the football world endures.  This first Diary post, is a view on the life and career of Mr Brian Howard Clough OBE.

Clough SuitBrian Clough was born in a council house in Grove Hill on 21 March 1935 and claimed he was a kid who came from a little part of paradise

OFB: What year did you first hear of Brian as a professional footballer?

DW: It was early in the 1956-57 season, my first as a full-time sports reporter. I’d returned to live in my native North-East from Manchester where I’d been a Daily Herald news man. All I knew about Brian was that he had begun the campaign out of Middlesbrough’s League side, having only tasted League Division Two action the previous season.

OFB: Did you read about him first or did you see him?

DW: My first real experience of him was the first Middlesbrough match I reported, Boro vs Grimsby Town on the night of Wednesday, September 12. From even early in the game I was taken up by him. He scored in a 2-1 win. My early impression of his play never left me. Indeed, I was so captivated by what I’d witnessed, I reported he was the most exciting player to enter a penalty area I’d seen in years.

OFB: Was he instantly recognizable as a footballer who was destined for greatness?

DW: Without a doubt. I could see that not only was he a terrific goal threat, he was also a fine leader of an attack, feeding wingers with sound delivery, as flank men Billy Day and Eddie Holliday were later to discover. It still irks me that Brian made only two appearances for the full England side. He didn’t score in those games but, given other chances to play, he would have extended his remarkable goals record to the international scene.

OFB: Did he try and emulate his style of play, on any individual player who played in his position?

DW: I was soon to do a comprehensive, exclusive interview with him, but there was no reference of effort to emulate any other’s style. While, with his typical frankness, remarkable for a 20-year-old, he told me who hadn’t helped him, he stressed who had, one of the two being reserve-team trainer Mickey Fenton, who, of course, had been a No. 9. He had also benefited from the advice of junior coach Jimmy Gordon, years later to be an aide in Brian’s fabulous successes as a manager of Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Clough StrikerBrian Clough never attempted to emulate other strikers and went on to score 251 goals in just 274 appearances in his short playing career

OFB: When did you become friends?

DW: We quickly became mates after that first major interview. He must have enjoyed what he’d read! Obviously, I didn’t report all Boro’s games. The likes of Newcastle and Sunderland had to be covered, too. But often when I was assigned to Ayresome Park matches, I’d take with me my Dad, who lived in Seaham, County Durham. It seemed almost invariably that Dad enjoyed a Clough hat-trick. Brian said, “Keep bringing him!”

OFB: When the Boro and then Sunderland travelled for away games, did you meet up with them at the same hotel?

DW: I didn’t often travel to away games with Boro or Sunderland, but, when I did, Brian and I would try to socialise. Once when I motored to Edinburgh to cover a Hibernian v. Boro friendly he particularly welcomed a chat. That was in the Middlesbrough team’s strained atmosphere around the time when, scandously in my view, some Boro players signed a round-robin letter to the management, requesting that the captaincy be taken from Brian. No wonder he said the most happiness he enjoyed in his playing and managing career was as a player at Sunderland. Given that round-robin experience, I could understand his pride when Sunderland captain Charlie Hurley told him after a match at Plymouth, that it was great to have him in the side.

OFB: Did you have long chats with Brian about his football?

DW: Very much so. As I’ve often said, I believe he could have managed a team even when he was only 20. His perceptiveness was sharp even then. “Management,” he said after a few months as Hartlepool’s team boss, “is about judgement of players: those you have and those you want.” With outstanding buys like centre-half Roy McFarland for Derby from Tranmere Rovers he and his assistant, ex-Boro keeper Peter Taylor, underlined he practised what he preached.

OFB: Did they have nice hotels then or was it just bed and breakfast and did you stay at the same hotels?

DW: Of course. Both Boro and Sunderland were noted for looking after their players and, indeed, the travelling Press.

OFB: Did you manage to have a few drinks together?

DW: It has been known… After that Plymouth match and Charlie Hurley’s tribute, Brian was naturally in great nick and we downed one or two. And the Hurley words provided an exclusive angle for my Herald report.

OFB: What was his most memorable game, his own individual performance and your best experience watching him as a player?

DW: I just loved seeing his one-touch goals at the near post when Billy Day, for instance, would cross low from the right. I recall Newcastle fans saying after he’d scored a couple at St James’. “Well, he just had to knock them in from a few yards.” My answer to that: If it’s so easy why don’t more strikers get goals like that? Freddie Trueman used to dismiss tail-end batsmen regularly but didn’t other bowlers face tail-enders without equal success.

OFB: What was his worst game or experience, was it sustaining a career ending injury?

DW: The saddest sight of my 76 years of spectating and reporting football was of Brian, lying on an icy Roker Park, beating the ground with his right hand. He hardly ever missed a game through illness or injury, so I knew he was seriously hurt. His eyes on the ball as it came from the left, he stretched to make contact. Unknown to him Bury keeper Chris Harker was diving out to meet that ball. The cruciate ligament damage from the inevitable clash was to end a fabulous playing career. That blow affected Sunderland’s destiny. It delayed their promotion to the top grade long enough for stars like Hurley to be past their best by the time they were in the old First Division.

Clough injury 2Brian Clough’s playing career effectively ended on Boxing Day 1962 after a collision with the Bury keeper on an icy pitch ruptured his cruciate

OFB: When he was injured, he coached Sunderland Juniors, were you still in contact with him during that time?

DW: Yes, his first crack at coaching was exciting for him and for those who saw a very young Roker side reach an FA Youth Cup semi-final for the first time. As we in the Press raved about the likes of Bobby Kerr in that junior team, I asked Brian who, in his opinion, was his top player. “Number 4,” he replied. He was talking about Colin Todd, the wing-half for whom he was to pay £170,000 – a whopping fee then – when he managed Derby.

OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes or pranks that he played? Or tell of his disciplinarian methods?

DW: Pre-season groups of playing staffs group photographs have been routine for years, but certainly a different one emerged when a Sunderland one was published. Brian was pretending to smoke a pipe. He liked a laugh. As a disciplinarian, he learned a lot from the manager who signed him from Boro. Sunderland boss Alan Brown was the most daunting man I had to deal with in football. But Brian noted his strength of character. As a manager himself, he told his players never to confront referees or doubt their decisions. Hence refs, were to say Brian’s Nottingham Forest players were the best behaved.

OFB: When he joined Hartlepool United as Manager, he famously took his PSV driving license so he could drive the team bus. Was that true, or part of his publicity for Hartlepool?

DW: That bus-driving certainly wasn’t a gimmick. That picture piece was another exclusive for me, this time in the Daily Mail. It wasn’t a publicity stunt. As Brian explained, if a bus driver was to take ill miles away from the North-East, how would they get home. He was a bright lad who, amazingly, had failed his 11-plus.

Clough Bus DriverAfter becoming manager of Hartlepools United, Brian Clough even learned to drive the team coach to ensure they were never left stranded

OFB: He took John McGovern from Hartlepool to all his clubs as a player did he really rate him that much?

DW: Not many people rated John McGovern in his early days as a Hartlepool United teenager, but Peter Taylor was the first to spot his potential. Eventually Brian – and I -were convinced of his ability. Then John was nearly to have aching arms through hoisting trophies for Forest. Now John, a lovely lad, does terrific impersonations of that famous Clough drawl.

OFB: What was his most memorable game as a Manager at Hartlepool.

DW: Brian’s most notable achievement at the Victoria Ground in my opinion was his success over the man who appointed him as manager. Chairman Ernest Ord was a formidable man. He could be really nasty. But Brian took him on – and Mr Ord departed. Brian’s legacy on leaving Pools for Derby was a team able to win promotion.

OFB: Did you get to know Peter Taylor very well?

DW: I got to know Peter soon after meeting Brian for the first time. We used to meet in the ice cream shop near Ayresome Park after they had trained. Over cups of tea was born one of the geatest partnerships football has known. That is where two great judges talked football, goalkeeper Peter having been among the first to recognise Brian’s great centre-forward play. Peter was amusing, but cunning. He seemed to prefer a dicey approach to a straightforward one to achieve the same object, just for the hell of it…

OFB: When he went to Derby as manager did you continue to report on his team and his performance?

DW: I maintained a strong interest in what he and his team did, but I didn’t report them often. I kept in touch with Brian, though, and, in effect, at times scouted for him. So well did I recommend Willie Carlin, of Carlisle United, to him that I was banned by the Cumbrian club. Carlisle turned down Derby’s approach for him, but accepted Sheffield United’s after persuading Carlin to reveal that I had tapped him on behalf of County. My Brunton ban didn’t end until Bob Stokoe replaced Tim Ward as manager. Carlin remains the only player who ever “shopped” me! Eventually, Brian bought him from Bramall Lane.

OFB: Who was in your opinion the manager that had the greatest influence on his career and why?

DW: As I mentioned earlier, Alan Brown underlined for Brian the value of firm discipline.

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did he fear his team playing against?

DW: Brian respected teams and players but feared none. I’ve often been asked what was the secret of his success. The simple answer is that he had terrific talent. He was a genius as a scorer and as a manager. Certainly, as a manager of his best teams, he always said in advance of a game that he thought he’d win. “You don’t expect me to say we’ll lose,” he’d say.

OFB: Which opposing team and which player did he like his team playing against?

DW: He was always particularly proud for his teams to beat the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds. I saw Derby, thanks to a McGovern goal, see off Liverpool to win the League title for the first time. I also saw Forest put out Liverpool on the way to their winning the European Cup. I know, too, that he and his Forest lads were thrilled to beat Man Utd 4-0 at Old Trafford. I recall that as an amazing show.

OFB: Who was his favourite player of all time and why?

DW: I think his boyhood idol remained his favourite. That was Boro, England and Great Britain inside-forward Wilf Mannion. Soon after making Trevor Francis Britain’s first £1million player I witnessed Brian saying to Trevor, “Come and meet someone who could really play.” That someone was Teesside’s Golden Boy. Old Boro fans wouldn’t disagree.

OFB: Did Brian talk to you about his time at Leeds? It was the only real setback in his career.

DW: Brian’s sacking at Elland Road actually made him an even better manager. Leeds honoured his contract to the penny and this gave him financial security for the rest of his career. Thus this man of immense strength of character, anyway, had even more self-confidence as he transformed struggling, second grade Forest into League champions and twice the tops in Europe.

OFB: That was probably his greatest success in winning the European Cup with Nottingham Forest – were you there?

DW: I wasn’t, but I was cheering at home as they won it and, remember, retained it.

Clough European Trophy bwThe pinnacle of a glittering managerial career that saw him win Division One with two clubs was lifting the European Cup twice with Forest

OFB: Did you go away on holiday a lot together as a family?

DW: We didn’t holiday together. You probably remember my being pictured with Brian in Majorca, but, believe me, I was working! I was there because he was likely to be appointed Leeds United’s manager. He was then with Brighton.

OFB: You said previously, that you tried to get him to join Sunderland as a manager on a few occasions, can you elaborate?

DW: My greatest footballing regret is that he didn’t manage a big North-East club – despite my efforts. I set it up three times. And Brian would have loved to have managed Sunderland in particular. But their board preferred other people. The chairmen of Boro and Newcastle also told me they wouldn’t have him. And by the time Sunderland’s Tom Cowie wanted him – Brian was handed a cheque for him to write in a figure – the Cloughs were too settled in the East Midlands. Imagine what Brian would have achieved on Wearside. After all, he is the only person to have managed two clubs to the top League title who had never previously won one.

OFB: He had a reputation for being hard on his players but he made them into Internationals. Did he have a soft side?

DW: Players still swear by him. I could never forget the tribute Martin O’Neill paid Brian at a Pride Park memorial service. Martin said that without Brian, Forest wouldn’t have won a thing. A soft side? He was very thoughtful and sensitive. How could I ever forget that on the day he paid a record fee to take David Nish from Leicester to Derby he had dispatched to Shotley Bridge Hospital a lovely rose bouquet? The recipient was my wife, Edna, who, aged only 35, had had major heart surgery. She lived with happy memories of Brian and his wife, Barbara, until she died 18 years ago, aged 62

OFB: What do you remember about him the most?

DW: I can’t top my previous answer.

OFB: A huge thank you Doug for taking the time to open up your Diary and reveal this chapter to Diasboro and our readers.

294 thoughts on “Doug’s Diaries: Brian Clough

    1. No problem OFB, I’m just happy acting in my design and editorial capacity sometimes – Although I have to say what a fantastic article you’ve produced with Doug and it was a truly absorbing read that captured the essence of the great man. It certainly contrasts with modern times in what are in some ways more technocratic coaches who are seemingly more ruled by theory, stats and performance data.

      I suspect you could never imagine the likes of Pep learning to drive the team bus either – even though in terms of ability as a coach they were probably on a par. Also the relationship he had with Doug was so amazingly borne out by his gesture of sending his sick wife a bouquet of flowers – it showed he cared about people and perhaps that is what those who played for him also felt. It maybe that important factor of connecting to players is simply what separates the best managers from the the good coaches.

    1. Thank you it’s appreciated but it’s all down to Doug

      We’ve already mapped out the next two to work on and if anyone on the blog has any ideas for a topic then please post


  1. That was an excellent piece Bob.

    Doug is obviously a mine of information and has anecdotes by the bucket full. A proper journalist of the old school.

    More please!

    1. Thanks

      We’ve identified our next topic and is a well known footballer with links to the NE clubs and an England International,

      He’s still fit and well and is the holder of a European Cup Winners medal twice !


    2. Doug has been on to me to say we only made one mistake in the post

      His wife was 35 when she was in hospital

      So all in all if that’s the only thing wrong I’m pleased with that

      Thanks to all for the comments it’s much appreciated


  2. What a fabulous read OFB and Mr. Weatherall. Thank you both.
    He had put into perspective my late Dad’s take on Clough after seeing him bag a hafull in a single game. Dad reckoned that Clough just got in the way of the ball. Like Doug says, if it was really that easy why weren’t all strikers doing the same.
    I agree it is sad he never had the chance to manage at Boro or even up the road. What is it that they say, a prophet is never accepted in his own land.

    My Mam and Dad used to take the Daily Mail when I was young and I remember reading Doug’s reports. Always top notch (up there with RR for me 😉). It might be an interesting theme for a conversation with him about the pressroom at the match. Who were the colourful figures and I’m sure there will be many amusing anecdotes he has.

  3. Bob that’s by far the best interview you have made. That’s not to say previous interviews were bad, far from it, but I guess it was also probably the easiest interview you’ve had, because Doug himself as a journalist would be at ease with the technique of interviewing and putting you at ease also. A raconteur sublime, but great credit to you Bob in recognising that and allowing him to open up with his anecdotes. Well done, looking forward to more of the same.

    1. THanks Ken and you are so right.

      Doug was a pleasure to work with, a bit different to some of the monosyllabic answers I’ve had in the past.

      Mrs OFB who has been with me at many of these has seen how many times I’ve asked the same question three differed ways and still not got a response.

      I’ve still got a few In2Views on the back burner which I’ve gone back to the interviewee again when I haven’t been happy with the result.

      Let’s face it, if Parky couldn’t get Meg Ryan to talk on his TV show then how could i a poor amateur get some of our heroes to open up?

      Doug is so cooperative and I think that our interest in him has stirred his enthusiasm and we can get more to come.


      1. OFB
        Doug obviously likes you or the interview wouldn’t have worked so well. It came over as two mates having a chat. You mentioned Parky and Meg Ryan, but the most embarrassing Parky interview was with our own Paul Daniels. Paul told me later that he found Parky sanctimonious so he tried to make him look foolish which he did with his Middlesbrough 2 Barnsley 0 comment. Parky was riled and showed it, but I thought Paul was a bit unprofessional in goading him. Of course I didn’t tell Paul that.

  4. “Management,” he said after a few months as Hartlepool’s team boss, “is about judgement of players: those you have and those you want”


    1. Yes, and we usually blame the Ian and and others nowadays. They just recommend and analyze the players the manager wants. But they do not make desisions, mind. Up the Boro!

  5. I would imagine with people like Doug and Bob Cass in the press box that there are quite a few stories to be told.

    I prefer the old fashioned journalism to the lazy cut and paste style of the present incumbents.

  6. Great interview, good to read and brings back the memories of the old codgers who used talk about cloughie at half time. “them was the days lad, when football was for men, not like the crap we have to watch nowadays…” Nuffing changes much does it like?

  7. OFB, very good read. Like Ken said, best read so far but then that is what we say about the latest version. But really enjoyed that one, again.

    As I was never able to see Brian Clough playing, this was nearly as good as it gets after all those years. Really facinating subject. Thanks for choosing the great goal getter.

    I like this blog. Up the Boro!

  8. OFB

    A top read yet again.

    Elsewhere, the owner of Villa has formally announced that there will be changes at the club.

    Terry has already left at the end of his one year contract, neither side has invoked the extra year for obvious reasons. For starters, Villa cant afford his £80,000 per week salary.

    The article I read even hinted they may have to sell their training ground.

    Derby have appointed Frank Lampard as manager, interesting choice. I must admit I think he talks common sense, will he have the same pull as Brian Robson did for us?

  9. Truly an excellent article. One of my favourite books is Clough’s autobiography, the one which details his rise from the streets of Boro through Derby, Leeds and onto Forest. Reading Doug’s extracts only goes to show how much there was to the man, and I have to say it is absolutely fascinating to read anecdotes and comments about Clough that I haven’t seen elsewhere. He was a true north-east icon and deserves to be remembered as such.

    OFB – excellent work pulling it all together. Your line of questioning alongside Doug’s wealth of knowledge has put together a truly brilliant article, and as I said above, covers ground that isn’t mentioned elsewhere. I feel that some of the questions above are the ones that fans would ask, rather than journalists, and it is this which lends it the angle which I find so interesting.

    Thanks again – looking forward to the next one!


  10. A great read Bob, As time progresses by this site is slowly becoming a great archive of pure footballing gold titbits thanks to yourself (and your interviewees of course) and our own Ken (I hope Ken doesn’t mind us claiming de facto “ownership” of him or at least his recollections).

    I look forward to more of the same please gents!

    1. Redcar Red
      Not at all, I’m flattered. I realise though that not everyone is interested in the history of our great club, but most of us like to say “remember when, etc”. I’ve also been fascinated by Boro’s pre-war seasons that my Grandad used to tell me about and enjoyed the exhibition a couple of years ago about the Camsell years. I’ll have a look sometime at the two seasons following the record breaking 1926/27 season because they had an unusual relegation followed by another successful promotion which preceded Boro’s longest period as a First Division club – 18 successive seasons spanning 25 years including the war years.

  11. Thanks OFB and DW for such an interesting and informative article, it was a highly enjoyable read.

    It’s good to hear about BC from someone who was close to him and able to shed light on aspects of his life that many of us were unaware of.

    I am slightly too young to have seen him play but am of course well aware of his achievements as a manager and TV pundit.

    At times I found he could be abrasive and controversial which did not always sit well with me.

    Would I have liked him to become Boro’s manager …….. would I ever!

    1. Doug response

      Yes. Also saw it on TV. Acting brilliant. I’m a Brian man so I think it could have been more sympathetic.


  12. Following on from Ian’s news about JT’s departures from Villa there are other rumours about Grealish being chased by Premiership clubs for £40m. In Premiership terms its not a fortune but I wouldn’t be keen to splash that level of cash just yet. If they do cash in which by the sounds of their predicament in relation to Financial Fair Play then its almost a no brainer would leave their side with a few huge gaps to fill.

    This Season’s top three are all gone to the land of the Premiership leaving Villa and Boro as the next two best teams closely followed by Derby. The Rams are interesting in that financially they aren’t in the best of health hence the departure of Rowett to nearish neighbours Stoke. Lampard has almost the perfect CV in terms of pedigree but no knowledge of Derby, the city, its populace, the squad of Players at his disposal let alone the Championship. Coming from a lavish land of opulence and diamond encrusted playing staff, resources and infrastructure will perhaps not be a million miles away from the Pride Park Snowdome but culturally a very different set of challenges on a shoe string budget.

    Parallels can certainly be drawn with Robbo but he was from the NE and was well backed financially by his Chairman who shall we say seems a little less complex and confusing than Mel Morris CBE. There have been many examples of famous Players moving into Management and being moved out almost as quick when the realisation that simply working with the finest doesn’t necessarily rub off. A bit like parking a Trabant alongside a Bentley for ten years and expecting its grandeur to reflect on the Trabant’s value to later sell on at a huge profit.

    For every Pep there is a John Barnes, Bobby Charlton, Gary Neville, Paul Ince, Tony Adams, Edgar Davids and our own (and briefly Derby’s) Fabrizio Ravanelli, all examples of footballing greats who haven’t exactly translated their playing skills across into management. Cloughie of course is a rare exception. Bob Paisley or Sralex were hardly playing superstars and indeed throw in Arsene Wenger or Jock Stein. The Lampard lad might do well but the odds for me are stacked against him, apprenticeships demanding instant gratification are rarely a recipe for success.

    Of the three that came down I think the Baggies are in a bit of a state and have been for some time even going back to when we played them at the Hawthorns and TP couldn’t put out a full subs bench all those months ago. Swansea will likely have to jettison a few players as they readjust to life down here plus I’m not sure if getting rid of an experienced Championship manager in Carvalhal made the most sensible of timings just as they dipped. If they think poor Carlos was to blame for their two Managers a year strike rate then they are certainly not in the best of places. Stoke seem to be best placed and to have the most sensible disposition so I suspect they will be up there but we all know what that feels like.

    Of course that leaves us with what Boro do. Tweak and refine or rip it up and start again? I hope TP’s remarks about not frittering away SG’s money implies refinement and improvement rather than another Summer overhaul. For all the above mentioned reasons I think we have reasons to be optimistic.

  13. Redcar Red

    Cloughie had an apprenticeship.

    He coached Sunderland’s youth team for a short time then moved to Pools. He brought in Peter Taylor as his assistant who had been managing non league Burton for three years

    After a couple of years they moved to Derby.

  14. Ken

    I did reply but it has disappeared. I remember most of the Cloughie stuff but not the all fine detail such as Peter Taylor managing Burton.

    1. The last time I remember seeing Brian Clough on TV was when his son Nigel was in his first managerial spell at Burton (then a Conference club) entertaining Brian’s first managerial club Hartlepools in a Second Round FA Cup tie in November 2003 which Pools won 1-0. Ray Stubbs did an interview with Brian making great play of that fact. Perhaps you were there.

  15. I think its a requirement to produce quantity over quality by his current overseers. We know AV is a quality Journalist and indeed one of the best but if you put Lewis Hamilton in a Trabant then we shouldn’t be surprised to see him get lapped. Should we blame the Driver or the Trabant?

    In terms of Players, personally I would prefer to see us go for fresher, longer term options with a realistic eye on the fact that we could be down here for some time should we not go up next season. The likes of Ollie Watkins from Brentford or Jarrod Bowen from Hull would be better investments and also more likely to deliver than Dinosaurs. No more Ray Parlours please!

  16. RR
    I think you’re right, AV is just doing his master’s bidding to fill column inches.
    I hope we’ve learnt our lesson and that the days of the Dinosaur are past.
    Step forward our rejuvenated Recruitment Team.

    1. Steely
      Maybe, but I don’t think it’s going to help relations between the Gazette and MFC. It’s one thing for fans to give opinions on possible acquisitions, but another for a Gazette reporter to speculate especially in the current circumstances. Reporting on players out of contract is ok, but the way I interpret it is that AV seems to be advocating that MFC should move quickly to approach some of these players or their agents and in my opinion that could exacerbate the stand off between the Gazette and MFC.

  17. Braveheart

    You and I don’t see eye to eye on the likes of Stewie Downing but I totally agree that those 5 aren’t what we need to try and push for promotion. Barge pole springs to mind.

    Any player over the age of 28 should be passed on straight away as far as I’m concerned. Younger, hungrier, faster should be the mantra this close season.

    I’m interested in TP saying he’s not looking to spend too much of Steve Gibsons money. Last seasons scatter gun approach didn’t really work so a more measured approach in recruitment will hopefully reap the rewards in the end.

  18. I hope a select few smart additions are brought in and then as OFB has hinted at supplemented by loans.

    Should we go up we know that wholesale changes take time to not only bed in but also in identifying who is garbage and who leaves a bad taste in the mouth for their dressing room “togetherness” qualities. I would much rather we built a solid sustainable team rather than import crocks and geriatrics. Loans can be effective but when you consider say Harrison and Baker then they can also be a real head scratcher. Unless the loans are an obvious upgrade on what we have then I would rather steer clear and promote from within. Loans sat on the bench should be ringing alarm bells.

    If we venture down the footballing equivalent of a Nursing Home recruitment policy then even in the unlikely event of achieving promotion it cannot be relied on in the top tier. A massive clear out will ensue and a hastily assembled horde of new recruits will send us straight back down again. In history anything built to last has had strong foundations and good planning.

  19. I agree we haven’t been very successful with loan players but some other team have done well with them in the Champioship. Like Fulham, Villa and Watford a few years ago.

    I prefer long term planning, our own juniors and comitted (read players with a two to three years’ contract) players. But bearing in mind that Boro have the proper parashute payments valid only for the coming season, I can see a point in having some loan players next season. In the very unfortunate case that we wouldn’t go up, we can balance the books much more easier.

    Anyway, I still think we have two very, very good strikes in Britt and Bamford for the Championship. And some good back ups in Fletcher and Miller.

    We also have a solid defence – even excellent if Ben Gibson stays – so we need only a couple of good midfielders. After that we can do with a few loan players to fill the gaps.

    I heard that Fletcher did OK towards the end of his loan at miserable Sunderland and some fans would have kept him for next season, too. As we have Gestede, do we need any more strikers?

    So let’s buy quality to our midfield. At least two attacking midfielders are needed and rest can be loanees.

    Just saying , like. Up the Boro!

  20. The big topic in the Gazette seems to be the future of Adama Traore. I, like most of us, would prefer him to stay, but ultimately that will depend on the player’s wishes. However I can’t imagine that a top six club would offer much more than the £15M quoted for what they would probably regard as a ‘project’ – a player who would not be a regular first team player next season, but might develop into one in the future. I may be wrong, but I don’t see his getting regular game-time with any of the top six. That wouldn’t be what Traore would wish for surely unless he puts monetary gain above regular football.

    Would one of the top teams buy him and lease him out though? Possibly, but perhaps only at the £15M valuation, and that might suit all parties. Of course if any other club outside of the top six buy him, his chances of regular football might be enhanced, but I can’t envisage Boro receiving much more than the £15M suggested in any case if there is a buy-out clause.

    In a nutshell then his valuation as a Championship player is about right, but maybe considerably more as a Premier League player if his development continues. But who would be taking the bigger gamble? The Premier League club or the player with his ambitions? My view is that another season in the Championship with Boro would help the player to develop more, but do Boro need the £15M and would a transfer/lease agreement be beneficial? A lot of that might well depend on whether we sell Ben Gibson to enhance the recruitment kitty.

  21. Ok, we could invest in full backs, too. Or do you think Tony Pulis will teach Barragan how to throw a ball? His loan has needs in Spain and he is our player again.

    Perhaps RR and Dormo could comment as I remember then adniring the Spanish full back and his throw-ins in the past …

    Up the Boro!

    1. Barragan will leave for an “undisclosed” fee in other words he and his agent find a club somehow and they will come to some monetary agreement to mutually dissolve the contract. The thought of him returning to Teesside is unlikely to say the least, that part of our history is in the past and “orta” remain well and truly buried.

      TP has just completed his Charity “Tower to Tower” challenge so I would doubt he will have been remotely interested in or even thinking about who we sign despite desperate tabloid column inches devoted to Morrison and the rest of the Baggies retirement complex.

      On Traore if the £15m trigger is correct I can see a few clubs willing to gamble at that price but thats when it gets interesting as I would assume that more than one Premiership club would be extremely interested. I suspect that the clamour would be similar to an E-Type Jag going for £500 quid on ebay with twenty seconds remaining. Of course other auction websites are available but they probably don’t offer full PayPal facilities.

  22. I see Heckingbottom of Leeds has been the latest managerial casualty.

    As far as selling Traore and Gibson, I would retain both for another season and hope their value would stay the same or increase, then if we do not get promotion, their sales would be like another seasons parachute payment.

    Come on BORO.

      1. If Aston Villa are short of cash it’s in their best interests to make sure Boro to sell Adama.

        Why ? Well most clubs don’t pay all the fee when they sell a player they pay in instalments so if Boro sell to another club the fee is paid in full to Aston Villa and therefore no cash flow shortfall

        So it may not have been a leaked release clause from the Agent it could be from the Villa end …..

      2. The sale or swap of Traore/Adomah was shrouded in mystery. I was of the opinion at the time that it was more of a swap than a straightforward sale but with MFC and our recruitment incompetences who knows? As it was conducted when we were a Premiership club it may have been wasteful from a Boro perspective but I wouldn’t imagine Villa would be due a settlement from Boro of any significant amount but more from the sell on clause.

      3. I can’t see Villa deliberately leaking a £15M clause if they are due a slice of any sell on fee. If they are due say 20% (especially if its from the profit on the sale) I’m pretty sure they would rather have 20% of £30M than £15M.

  23. If The report of interest in every old fogey (in football terms ) out there is true, then that is a concern,
    All this team needs is three new energetic , skillful , midfielders with the ability to see the whole field not five yards to right or left.
    By the way nice one OFB.

    1. I suspect Adama’s motivation (if indeed the stories are true) of wanting to play in the Premier League would preclude such a deal happening. Then there would be the wages aspect too – apparently he was on £70k a week at Villa, don’t know if Boro came close to matching that but we bought him when we were in the PL.

      Overall it looks like if there is a £15m escape clause then he will leave for that amount as GHW quite logically intimated a few days ago – basically there can’t be a bidding war once any interested clubs know that is the price at which they get to talk terms with the player as they don’t need to pay Boro any more than that. Adama will most likely have options but whether any of the top clubs see him as a starter is perhaps unlikely but I suspect he will ultimately leave.

      Some may suggest that £15m may sound a little high for a player who had perhaps only a good half-season under him – but for that price these days Boro could only buy Championship striker with a faulty goal radar and no first touch.

      Incidentally, if he did go for £15m then he would become our record sale beating the £12.5m sale of Juninho back in 1997 and the £12m sale of Downing to Villa in 2009 – though some reports suggest the undisclosed sale of de Roon to Atlanta was for £13m. Nevertheless, big money sales by Boro seem to be something of a rarity with only Yakubu and Rhodes also hitting the £10m mark.

      While that may initially sound surprising, we shouldn’t forget that with Boro spending much of the last ten years in the second tier and the post-Eindhoven downsizing under Southgate that preceded it, the club haven’t been players in the medium to top-end of the market for quite some considerable time.

      It’s therefore important when you do sell that it’s done at the right time to maximize the return. Few players consistently play at their best and the mistake is sometimes to think they will retain their sometimes over-hyped value in the market – Ben Gibson for example is probably no longer rated at £30m after an indifferent season the Championship but he may still attract offers around £20m this summer – most likely a lot less next summer.

  24. Werder
    Based on his performances this season, £20m would be a good offer. It also depends whether or not Ben wants to move on. Although naturally left footed centre backs are a rare commodity, I believe we could recruit an adequate replacement if he chooses to leave.
    Traore apart, we have lacked pace for years, so I hope the remit is, as GT says, to get some energy into the midfield.

    1. For me Besic was a marked upgrade on what we had but when we needed him to step up and deliver he was very poor against Villa in both games. Definitely and significantly better than what we had but when up against one of the Championships better sides he looked distinctly well short of a promotion class midfielder. For me its an OK if he comes but I think there is better to be had.

      1. RR

        I agree with that and unfortunately the same could be said of a number of players who looked good against the middle and lower teams in the division but failed to deliver against the better sides.

        All too often our so called star players failed to perform against the top sides in the division and that remains a concern for next season given we cannot afford yet another season of major incomings and outgoings.

        It is going to be a major test for TP and his recruitment team to build on the existing foundations and enhance the squad with incomings to mount a promotion push. Next season could prove even more challenging than this one given the impact of the three relegated teams.

  25. When David Mills left he was the first £500,000 footballer. Subsequently Hodgson, Armstrong, Souness, Proctor and Johnston all went for big fees. Boro have history of getting good prices for their players.

    However there are exceptions. Don Masson went on a free transfer ( my fav player at the time) and was then sold on for £110,000, another big fee at the time. It still rankles with me.

  26. Brilliant piece OFB with one of the best journalists to come out of the North East and made even better as the subject was one of my all time favourite players, Manager and nice person who always remembered where he came from.

    My first match in seeing him was the famous 9-0 drubbing of newly promoted Brighton in August 1958. 5 goals he scored if I remember correctly.

    I would agree with GHW in that if Adama wants to leave he will and we will get what we will get….be it 15mil, not the ridiculous prices bandied around by the Gazette through its poll.

    Again I know like Adama it is all paper talk and speculation, but all these over 30 players we keep getting linked with…..Morrison, Walters and the likes. All over the hill, injury prone and looking for on final decent contract. Signing on fee, EPL wages and every other Saturday off, including Tuesdays in the Winter.

    When, just when are we going to see some departures, not of players but recruitment staff.

  27. Redcar Red
    I’m with you on Besic. He and Howson were the big disappointments against Villa.

    Thinking back to another Boro promotion team, do we need a Murdoch. Someone who can unlock the opposition even if they’re not the fastest player on two legs. Probably not Pulis’ style but maybe Morrison is as close as he would go.

    We are likely to have plenty of possession and need to do more with it. Is the lack of goals a problem with the front men or a lack of bullets for them to fire.


  28. Dominic Shaw reminds me of a young child looking forward to Christmas. Has he calculated how many ‘sleeps’ yet before the start of the World Cup, release of Boro’ fixture list, etc?

    1. Never mind the arrow heads down the arms. Hideous. When will these shirt designers admit that there is only so much you can do to make a shirt classy before before it becomes ‘colouring box’. I know it’s a track suit top but…



      1. I believe Hummel was originally a German family owned business before cementing its roots in Danish culture so I guess that is where the name originates.

  29. It sounds as though the club are feeding out hints regarding Traore because they have, yet again, managed to turn the possession of a very valuable player into a story of disappointment.They have obviously constructed a contract that gives them nothing, a cheap release price, giving up their right to see out his contract.
    The sure and certain knowledge that he will have a great career, the equally sure and certain knowledge that they should have played him in various positions before selling, ( General opinion is that he will be something special in the middle, and take over dead ball duties, doh! )
    It could be written off as unfortunate, if only it was not an example of the utter worthlessness of the entire trading in the market for players.
    I assume that they know that there is a market, ( being played furiously by the clever clubs) to survey Southampton’s balance sheet in the last few seasons is to weep.

    If they had left out the release clause, they would have had the power of the contract to protect them.
    I take it that they have no power, over either price or buyer, or even whether to go or stay.

  30. If I were an agent of a young footballer with ambitions to play in a higher league I would think it my duty to insert a release clause in his contract agreeable to both the player and the club dependent on the length of the contract. Obviously the amount of this release clause should be amended on any renewal of the contract.

    Also if I were the person employed by a Football Club in charge of outgoing transfers I would make it a condition in the transfer of any player that my club would receive an agreed percentage of any future sale. As an accountant with a knowledge of company law, I would expect this should be a basic requirement in transfer negotiations.

    1. Ken
      Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.
      If you sign a young player, and very cleverly insert a release clause, you are taking a gamble, now you might be a very clever accountant, but a not very good judge of a young player.
      At the point that you are taking that gamble, you are putting your club in terrible danger of suffering a financial disaster, because frankly it is in the jurisdiction of football and only football that the decision lies.
      You, as the financial man think,” I am determined to protect the investment of my club” so you stick a release clause on him of 15 million.
      Within six months he is manifestly worth fifty million, and has three years left on his contract.
      A leading club tell him they wish to sign him, he says yes please.
      The club then tell you, the owner of the player , that they are going to sign him and are happy to meet your release clause, oh, and thank you very much.
      You , of course say, he has three years to go on his contract.
      They of course, say his release clause means what it says, release.
      So there goes your player, whistling down the road, together with your thirty five million.

      Come to think of it that sounds like us.

  31. Just read this that probably indicates one marketing campaign has well and truly jumped the shark…

    It seems it’s not only the players that have to show hunger for the game – Quite unbelievably, Mastercard have launched a marketing campaign in South America in which they will donate 10,000 meals to starving children when either Messi or Neymar score a goal – no doubt from their kitty of corporate tax avoidance monies. Such a nice idea to give feeding hungry children the competitive element it has so far been lacking – some are already labelling it ‘The Hunger Games’.

    Maybe Visa should donate 10,000 meals every time a keeper saves one of their shots just to even it up – perhaps with the slogan ‘Visa Saves Children From Hunger’…

    1. Its astonishing that Corporate Executives could have considered this, discussed it and then thought it was a great Marketing idea. Sick and twisted doesn’t begin to describe it.

      I’m all for supporting the disadvantaged but to determine that kids can eat because a multi millionaire scores a goal clearly hadn’t been thought through which shows the complete disconnect between the haves at the top table and the have-nots with their noses pressed up against the window.

  32. The British press – especially some not very high quality tabloids who has given the tabloids a low quality meaning – has traditionally given very hard times for the England managers. From our own Steve McClaren to Roy Hodgson just to name a few. Anyway one feels that the tabloids often has an agenda – is it brexit or sacking the England manager ata time.

    So I would like to ask you locals if I have understood it correctly that our Gareth Southgate has a bit better rapport with the British press than his presessors. Or is it just because his English team has yet to drop out of a major final yet?

    I think our ex-captain – the only captain we have ever had lifting a major trophy – is doing a good job as an England manager. He does not have the best squad for the World Cup as there aren’t many world class English players to choose from. He is doing the best he can with the limited squad he has.

    But I do like Dele Alli, though. He is in my opinion the best player England has, the rest are good PL level but not quite World Class yet. It is good to see Pickford in goal though as Hart has never been good enough.

    I will fully support England in the World Cup as my own country is not there. I have met Gareth once after a training session at Rockcliffe when he was still playing. It was in the changing room and he was wearing just pants when I and my son paid a visit to the training ground. Nice to see him wearing a suit now and leading the England team.

    Pity that we won’t see any Boro players in the World Cup this month. I don’t know if Martin Braithwaite will join the Danish squad or if he is still is a Boro player in August.

    Still looking forward to the World Cup though. Up the Boro!

    PS. Dael Fry is now a regular at England under 21 level. Would it be nice for Boro to have two England centre backs on their books in the PL one day?

    1. You probably got it right when you said that the tabloids are still waiting for him to fail before they inevitably stick the boot in – quarter-finals are usually a minimum requirement but even losing in the unlikely event of reaching the semi’s would no doubt be dressed up as a ‘failure’ or ‘missed opportunity’. Didn’t see anything yesterday to suggest England will be one of the best eight teams at the World Cup though.

  33. Southgate has a very young squad therefore he’s not suffering from the “expectation “ that usually accompanies England into major tournaments.

    His aim is probably Euro 2020. I expect the press to go easy on him unless the team put in some very poor displays.

    As ever, they will suffer from a lack of top quality defenders across the back four, there are goals in the team, keeping them out will be the key.

    Qualification from the group and a good showing in the knockout phase will be deemed successful I think.

  34. I see we are being linked in the Sun to a Striker called Michael Frey from FC Zurich. He is apparently 6ft 2″ so therefore Tony Pulis must be interested in him. I’m not well versed on Swiss Football but my hunch is that it is one level above the Scottish Leagues. The lad previously failed to cut the mustard in French Football so I struggle to see what he will offer us that Gestede, Fletcher or Miller currently don’t.

    1. Having said that, watch Southampton sign him for £2M, score 28 goals next season in the Premiership and then they sell him to Liverpool next summer for £70M! 🙂

  35. Some good comments about the outrageous MasterCard free meals and when not if the tabloid hacks will put the boot into Southgate.

    No doubt the multi million dollar making MasterCard will find a way to write off some tax liabilities against these charitable donations.

    Watched most of last night’s game though didn’t really take much interest in it. Not surprised to see premiership players going down far too easily and blatantly diving about and cheating. What was surprising to see was the referee not buying it unlike the big club biased premiership officials abd that he also booked that pathetic individual that is Sterling.

  36. Yes, some rather silly comments coming out of the England camp.
    I agree with the attempt to instil some togetherness into the group.
    It is shameful that the entire press agree wholeheartedly that the previous England groups were composed of disparate groups from the leading teams.
    Why did they not do something about the situation?
    They, if anybody, could have blown the entire group out of the water.
    Quite a few young players, talk of going for it in a big way, from the get go.
    The recent tournaments have featured all the big teams playing hard ball in the group stages, tight as a drum, minimum chances, prepared to take one for the team, prepared to go to the wall to stop the opposition scoring,( do not fall behind)
    And that attitude includes Brazil.
    After that they show why they do a lot of winning In these affairs.

  37. Is it the ton now? Anyway I try to manage it with a better first touch than Britt. Did I do it?

    I saw today that Ramirez won’t be there at the World Cup this time around. As Dormo tweeted, that improves the average work rate of the Uruguayn team.

    At least we have Stuani there. My favourite second team, then. Up the Boro!

  38. Other former or current Boro players possibly going to the World Cup in Russia:
    🇺🇾 Cristhian Stuani
    🇦🇺 Brad Jones
    🇩🇰 Martin Braithwaite
    🇩🇰 Viktor Fischer
    🇳🇬 Ken Omeruo
    🇭🇷 Milos Velkjovic
    🇨🇴 Bernardo Espinosa

    This list courtesy of BoroStats in Twitter. Anyone missing?

    I was surprised Brad Jones is still playing. Up the Boro!

  39. Plato

    I suspect that the top team cliques that have hamstrung the English national side could have been sorted out by a manager who had the will to do so. Unfortunately since El Tel I just don’t think we have had a manager who has had the cojones (?) to do that.

    The only one who could have done in my opinion was Capello but unfortunately he was just interested in the big salary on offer. Hoddle, Keegan, Sven, S Mac and Roy Hodgson were either too nice or in S Macs case too self interested and too chummy and seemingly overawed with the likes of “JT” and “Stevie G”.

    As for Fat Sam we’ll never know, but he shouldn’t have even been a passing thought on the selectors minds never mind actually being appointed. Disgraceful appointment which was proven to be so by his subsequent actions.

    It will make a refreshing change if they do go for it from the off in the first group game against the mighty Tunisia. Better to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. Both our play off semi final games being a case in point.

    1. FAA
      Loved your attitude and remarks, but, our problem has always been the qualifying group, yes always, we go into the first match trying to get a feel for the competition ( and our opponents)
      We then find ourselves behind ( to a freak goal)
      We then find ourselves battling against a team who simply will not give up their one goal lead.
      We then tell ourselves that we will have to beat our next oponents, which of course will give us six points ( because we will win our final match)
      We find that our second opponents know that they are on their way home if they do not get at least a draw, so we are faced with 11 men who will chase anything that moves, including a bit of scrap paper ( they get their draw)

      We tell ourselves that we can still go through if we win our last match by three clear goal( 2-0 to the good guys) and the return flight to the UK leaves at noon the next day.
      Brazil, no less, play a grinding game in the qualifiers, they shall not pass and all that.
      We should pay attention, and copy.

      1. Plato

        I’m not expecting anything other than the usual disappointment just reflecting on the attitude of a new generation of younger players. Cahill excepted. Who I learned on Saturday has more caps than Gareth Southgate.

        Lots of good English centre halfs around in Southgates era or lots of poor ones in Cahills? Bit of both me thinks.

  40. Interesting how he pretty much ignores his third season in charge at Boro in what was a total slow motion car crash of a season ending in relegation, something the vast majority saw coming months before it actually happened.

    Legend as a player, not so as a manager. Certainly at Boro anyway. A genuine nice guy from what I’ve seen and read and I hope he has success in whatever he does.

  41. RR, thanks for the link.

    I think we should remember that Gareth kept us up for two season in charge. And he needed to get rid of many old and high-salary players while at the helm. The biggest thing to take us and him down was the failure of Afonso Alves – had he scored a few more goals we would have survived.

    At least we lived to see the match versus the millionaires – the legendary win over Manchester City. It was 8-1 or something. A legendary match for me.

    I think he is frank in saying: “Sometimes I ask myself, was it a good decision to take it on? There’s certainly better pathways than the one I took, that’s for sure.”

    Can we blame Gareth to take up the job? Perhaps not, I think it was Steve Gibson who was to blame for the appointment. Gareth was a rookie but has later proved he was to be a good manager. Anyway, Karanka had less success in the PL and had as much money to spend as Gareth. The biggest mistake made by Gareth was signing Afonso Alves – had that gamble succeeded we would have survived.

    I think the real problem was appointing Gordon Strachan – as somebody was having too much of coffee on the way back from Coventry. Perhaps we should have kept Gareth a season longer instead.

    But Gareth is right – one needs to go trough the juniors first and perhaps lower leagues first to gain experience. There is too much to learn if you go directly from playing to managing. Gareth did not had even the qualifications at that moment. Keeping that in mind, the two first years were very good. And don’t forget the cost cutting he needed to do with an ageing squad he inherited.

    A legend as a player but not the worst manager we have had either. Same category as Mogga in there.

    Up the Boro!

  42. I still think Southgate got a raw deal.

    Can you imagine a young manager getting relegated and then promoted and establishing themselves in the Premiership.

    Sean Dyche anyone?

    1. I agree with that, ghw. But perhaps we should not go in there as the debate could be endless. It is easy to say now that we should have kept Southgate and not appointed Strachan. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but never helps at the time.

      Up the Boro!

  43. I needed to google how to spell Afonso’s first name. And realised this:

    Years……………Club ………………Apps…(Gls)
    2001–2002……Atlético Mineiro …..6…(4)
    2004–2006……Malmö FF…………55…(29)
    2009–2010……Al Sadd……………12…(2)
    2010→ …………Al Rayyan (loan)..7…(8)
    2010–2012……Al Rayyan………..27…(19)
    2012–2013……Al Gharafa…………4…(0)
    National team
    2007……………Brazil…………………8 …(1)

    So he played just 50 matches after leaving Boro. That is not much and he must have retired at the age of 32.

    I think he should have gone back to the Netherlands and played there. His talent (?) was lost in the Middle East. A pity as he had played in eight internationals while at Heerenveen.


  44. Interesting to read the link from RR and Gareth always struck me as an intelligent, emotionally stable man who was probably quite well equipped to be a manager – plus probably quite a good man manager too.

    In some ways any retrospective view given by people themselves tends to be a little revisionist – naturally he wouldn’t want to dwell on the actual relegation season as encapsulating his time at Boro. Though you would probably say his points haul in his three PL seasons (46, 42, 32) decreased in accordance with loss of better players and the replacement by lesser ones.

    Incidentally, I recall from the meeting some of us from Untypical Boro had with Steve Gibson on the subject of Southgate when it was raised and why he was dismissed. Whilst Gibson was a great admirer of Southgate the man, his main problem was that in the post-relegation season, the chairman felt he wasn’t getting the personal influence from his manager that he wanted. It sounded like Gareth was becoming more of a delegator for training sessions to, for example, the likes of Colin Cooper and often didn’t join in the sessions himself but instead was taking a more strategic overview. I think Steve Gibson said he believed his managers needed to be hands on and that was the main reason he ultimately decided to make the difficult decision to dismiss him.

    I believe Clough was more of that view and think he didn’t personally take training sessions but in recent times under Karanka and Pulis it looks like they are most definitely hands on. Different styles but the problem is when a manager doesn’t get the results then his chairman will start to wonder how they will turn it around and personally influence the players. Don’t know if Southgate’s style has now changed over time but putting your trust in your coaching team is both admirable and dangerous in the high turnover modern day.

  45. Gareth was on a hiding to nothing. A player one day and Manager of a Premiership Club the next with no warning and no training. Fergie and Wenger at the time were less than complimentary and the FA had to give special dispensation if In recall correctly because he didn’t have the required badges.

    Throw in the difficulty that he had to somehow distance himself from his mates who were buddies one week and then he suddenly was put in charge of them its no wonder he backed off and used Coaches to create that familiarity/contempt gap. For and MD to not recognise that is a little surprising to put it mildly.

    The timing of his removal was right for me at the time despite the fact we were higher in the Championship than we would be for some years to come. Gareth was struggling with the fans becoming disenchanted and having little confidence which was transmitting itself to the players and the term “Rabbits in Headlights” was regularly used. At that point the big names and earners had all but departed and their replacements were quite literally not fit to lace their boots. Any doubts about that was confirmed when Strachan bombed with them and then again with his personal revision with Mogga’s Celtic cast offs and assorted Tartan bedecked journeymen no marks.

    I don’t think Gareth had a free hand in recruitment and those incoming players were like as not scouted and recruited for him. As we know the Alves’, Mido’s and Digard’s were nothing short of disappointing. I think that Digard had the potential to fill a key role but just as he was finding his feet and settling Cattermole effectively finished his Boro career. Had Southgate retained a fully fit Digard I think that we would have faired better at the time. As it was after he returned from injury he looked a spent force, unfit and bereft of confidence, nervous in every challenge. The cost of that single “tackle” cost MFC very dear for years to come.

    For me with the passing of time and information that subsequently emerged that period of the Club’s history reflects far better on Gareth Southgate than it does MFC.

    1. Remember when he met the players the first time as a manager at Boro ?


      You can call be boss or gaffer whatever you like ?

      Ray Parlour

      Can we call you big nose ?

      That was he last time they met and Parlour was moved on….


    2. Selling Cattermole was a big mistake because he couldn’t handle him and letting Viduka and Schwartzer and Huth go we lost the spine


  46. My views on ScapeGate have not changed, he carried the can for the mishandling of the club by the Unholy Trinity of Lamb, Gibson and himself.

    They bought poorly then eviscerated the midfield of the team in the August and we got our just deserts.

    The night he was dismissed we had two points from teams in the top half of the table. The successive home defeats by West Brom, Leicester and Watford were poor performances.

    Sadly Gareth took one for the management team but he was involved.

    1. That West Brom game lives in my memory to this day. It was a good opportunity to take points from a Promotion contender but the Baggies gave us a Football lesson that day and well and truly wiped our noses in it. That 5-0 hammering was the end of Gareth at MFC for me. After that game he was a dead man walking.

      Read it and weep:–10_Middlesbrough_F.C._season

      With the benefit of hindsight (and the passing of time to remove the raw emotion) looking at those ins and outs especially the timing of Huth and Tuncay, Gareth Southgate didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades.

  47. My personal view is that GS should have been dismissed after relegation. To do it several months into the following season was a strange one. Results against fellow promotion contenders were very poor though.

    The thing that sticks with me is that in post match interviews, particularly after a defeat, his mantra was “we will learn from this”. Unfortunately he/the club never did.

    1. Had the club sacked him who would they appoint? The Club was financially at a tipping point after McClaren had left us with highly paid ageing superstars long past their best and more importantly long past their sell by. A new manager would have wanted to know what he had to work with firstly and secondly what he had to spend.

      The answers to both those questions would have scared away any half decent manager, an experienced manager with any savvy (hence why we ended up with Strachan) would have seen straight through the “plan”. Imagine the interview. “Well in response to your first question all the best and most experienced Footballers will be sold off to the reduce the debts and replaced by Academy Players or lower league recruits and budget loans”. “The answer to your second question is pretty straightforward, in terms of spend well not a lot really as we need to try and clear unsustainable Premiership level debts”.

      Keeping Southgate was the only option in those circumstances but after the first few weeks it was obvious that the squad of players he had been left to work with after August was dire, Mark Yeates, Sean St. Ledger, Justin Hoyte, Brad Jones etc.

      A very telling sentence in the above 2009 Wiki link sums up the state of affairs for me:

      “Most of the players with high squad numbers moved down the list to fill in the empty spaces. Mido was given the number 9 shirt before going out on loan, while Afonso Alves retained number 12 until he left. Due to the numerous players who transferred in and out or who came on loan, many squad numbers were used by more than 1 player throughout the season”.

      1. I think there were a number of combining factors that hit the club at the time Southgate was appointed – the need to replace an ageing squad as you mentioned was both exacerbated by most of them having little resale value and those brought in were mainly punts.

        Though if I remember correctly, the financial state of the club was that they had basically been overspending by an average of around £10m a year for about ten years or so and had a debt of around £120m by the time of relegation – with I think half owed to Steve Gibson and half owed to banks. The real problem came with the sub-prime banking crisis in 2007 (which ten years down the line is still effecting the economy and government spending) and the subsequent banking bail outs – this meant many clubs had their overdraft facilities curtailed and I think most businesses, including Bulkhaul were feeling the squeeze.

        This was the main factor in Boro downsizing, though it seems what money was spent was not spent very well – I recall seeing a quite fat Mido in pre-season looking like he ate all the pies appearing somewhat off the pace. By the time Southgate’s team had recruited badly and then replaced with a Gordon Strachan, who then blew the last ten million quid on Old Firm rejects, Boro were flat broke. Mogga got the job of managing the austerity budget and kept the club in the Championship and tried to make a budget promotion challenge but failed until he too became a dead man walking as ‘it is what it is’ no longer washed with the supporters.

        We then hailed the arrival of Karanka and Steve Gibson was once again able to finance some new players for the new man after the remnants of the overpriced jockification had been worked through the accounts and the likes of Tamo Kink could be finally replaced – although most of Mogga’s budget signings formed the backbone of Karanka’s team.

      2. The same Brad Jones who we will see at the World Cup in 2018. He must be one who got away too early.

        Well, just joking, RR. Was he called corporate or something … UTB!

  48. Redcar Red

    I was at the 3-0 defeat at the Hawthorns in the relegation season and he looked doomed then.

    The writing was on the wall as the previous January transfer window closed and the three wise monkeys had done chuff all to address any of the structural weaknesses in the team.

    We all remember Mizaru Gibson who never saw it coming, Kikazaru Lamb who never listened. That leaves Iwazaru Southgate who spoke no evil.

    1. And then history repeated itself during the next Premiership January Transfer Window almost ten years later unless of course Gestede and Guedioura count as addressing a survival attempt?

  49. Sacking him in the close season would have given the club more time to find a suitably qualified and experienced replacement. Instead Strachen was appointed and took us back nearly 2 decades.

    As for scaring off any experienced managers due to players leaving and having to take a punt on younger players, I don’t buy that side of the argument. Dangle the cash and the money would trump any reservations the vast majority of potential managers might have had.

    Wrong man at the wrong time. As was Strachen.

  50. He could’ve turned down Gibbos offer as he didn’t have the necessary qualifications or any managerial experience at the time so no sympathy from me for being labeled a scapegoat.

    Nothing wrong with having belief in your own ability but he must have realised the massive gulf between playing and managing.

    1. I’m sure he did but ending up as England Manager a decade later proved that his belief in himself wasn’t far wrong. When he took the job I would question if he knew that 80% of the talent in the squad was going to be sold from under his feet and then replaced by probably the poorest recruitment in the history of the club, even worse than the Jocktication and Gary Gill and Victor Orta combined!

      1. Don’t get me wrong at the time I was delighted when I heard the news. I was in a Hotel on the outskirts of Birmingham at a Conference, had enjoyed a great evening and just got back to my Hotel room and was delighted when I read that he had departed the club but very sad that it had all come to that. The bottom line is that he should never have been put in that position but lets face it how many of us on here would turn down the opportunity to manage a Football Club let alone Boro?

  51. In other news today the Barcodes are apparently salivating over the prospect of them signing Adama, yesterday it was Ben they were drooling over.

    Meanwhile the Gazette have a piece on guessing what the new Hummel Boro shirt might look like and there is a rumour about Michael Frey from FC Zurich being linked for £2M.

    All sounds very familiar to us on here 🙂

    1. On a more serious note apparently West Ham Manager Manuel Pellegrini has been mugged at gunpoint in Chile. At this stage there is no truth in the rumour that the assailants had broad Boro accents and were requesting the Ashley Fletcher money back.

      Joking aside the robbers made off with his wife’s handbag firing shots at the Police as they made good their escape. Thankfully nobody was actually hit by the bullets, must have been terrifying!

    2. Michael Frey from FC Zurich? That’s my neck of the woods – I’ll ask around and see if I can find a Swiss person who actually goes to watch FC Zurich play and see what they think of him.

  52. “It turned out that the chairman hadn’t been able to get who he really wanted to replace Steve. So he called me.”

    Now who was that I wonder?

  53. Jarkko

    It was Corporal Jones after the character in Dad’s Army. At any signs of trouble he ran around shouting ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’

    Sadly, I think the nickname was my fault.

    Going back to Gareth, I don’t blame him for taking the job. At the time Gibson said he was surrounded by experience with Keith Lamb and himself.

    The part of the circle I cant square is the fact we were going for a young, exiting team based on our academy thereby saving money then brought in the likes of Mido, Aliadiere, Alves, Hoyte, Digard, Emnes. Throw in Jason Euelluseless, Marlon King, Marcus Bent, Dong Gook Lee.

    Morrison left and in the fateful August window we disposed of Boateng, Rochembach, Catermole. Mendi was basically finished. Out went Luke Young to be replaced by Hoyte. We brought in a one legged Frenchman – Digard came in after a serious leg injury.

    Then on relegation Yeates, St Ledger, Caleb Folan.

    We got a lot more out of Barry Robson, Scott McDonald, Mick McManus than that shower gave us.

    The jockification cost two thirds of an Alves but that didn’t work out.

  54. The story is always the same, always.
    The hurtful thing is being reminded of the full list of awful buys, because no matter how we think the incompetence at the top of the club is terminal, we still consign whole blocks of these laughable failures to oblivion, and then someone (is it you?) drags them ( in all their awfulness) back to a sort of afterlife.
    And the hurt starts all over again.

  55. We are in the position of fielding a very good central defence this coming season, I’m watching Fry, and I like what i see.
    This young man is more than ready, he possesses all the attributes of the man who walks into the big time with a smile plastered all over his face.
    All the prizes should fall to him as a matter of course, there should be no more waiting, give Ben his chance to fulfil his promise, put Fry in the team to stay and stop messing about, his time has come.

    1. Ian, I enjoyed watching Dad’s Army on You Tube. It is ages I saw them last time around. They were popular on our TV, too. Bought back memories of my late dad, too. I still lived with him when the series was on TV. Brilliant, I had forgotten their names, though.

      Yes, corporal Jones and the really old chap (not able lift anything) were great. Thanks, Ian. Up the Boro!

      1. Jarkko
        Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson, Corporate Jones, Private Godfrey (prostate trouble), Private Fraser (undertaker), Private Walker, (spiv) and Private Pike (stupid boy!). Saw them all perform Dad’s Army on the stage at Billingham Forum many years ago, and also once met Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones) with his dog at a book-signing session in the Algarve where he told me that all his family lived over there in the village of Boliqueme. Unfortunately only Ian Lavender (Private Pike) is still alive now.

  56. RR

    Southgate has got the England job by default because he’s viewed by the old farts at the FA as a yes man and for no other reason. Undoubtedly a nice man but a yes man. Where is his managerial credibility for such an auspicious job.

    A PR safe pair of hands after Allerdyce isn’t a recommendation to be England manager in my book.

    Certainly I’d love to manage the Boro but I know that there is no way on earth I’d be anywhere near up to the task. Self belief is one thing, being in way over your head and failing to recognise the fact is another.

  57. So the deluded ones up the road are drooling over Ben and Adamah. All the modern day slaver has to do then is dip into his awful companies petty cash and come up with say £40 – 50 million and they can have them. Easy.

  58. We’ve all enjoyed OFB’s interview with Doug Weatherall on the subject of Brian Clough, especially as many of us saw him play for the Boro, and those who didn’t remember his successes along with Peter Taylor as one of the best, if not the best, football managerial partnerships since the Second World War. Brian apparently came to the attention of George Camsell, a player who knew a thing about goalscoring and I’ve already touched on the Camsell years on an earlier blog last November. If anyone’s missed it and wishes to read it, it can be found in the archives section of Diasboro under the heading of Boro 1 Sunderland 0 on 7th November 2.46pm. One interesting fact is that in that 1926/27 season Boro scored 122 league goals, 59 by Camsell whilst the other 63 represented 1.5 per game in the 42 matches, which is the same number Boro scored in 46 matches during their promotion season two seasons ago. How goalscoring has changed!

    Brian Clough is reputed to have put down his finishing to the coaching he received from another ex-goalscoring Boro centre forward, Mickey Fenton and it is he who I want to write about later. But firstly let me finish off the Camsell years. Boro were relegated the season after Camsell’s record breaking season even though they accumulated 37 points which was only seven fewer than Derby County who finished 4th. Camsell scored 33 in that relegation season and another 30 the following promotion season which was the prelude to Boro’s longest period as a First Division club – 18 seasons over 25 years covering the Second World War.

    George Camsell’s scoring record was on the decline during the early 1930s, ONLY reaching 30 goals once in the following seasons with Boro’s total goals well below 70 a season (what would Boro give today for a striker who could score 20 goals, never mind ONLY 30?). Anyway Mickey Fenton made his first team debut as an inside forward on the last day of the 1932/33 season, a 4-0 home win before a mere crowd of 7,340 against Blackburn Rovers. What’s more he scored, so did Camsell, but he made only three more appearances in the following season and failed to score. Boro just avoided relegation in 1934/35 with Camsell only scoring 14 goals and Fenton 8 in 21 appearances. The following season wasn’t much better with Boro finishing 14th although Camsell once more found his shooting boots with 28 goals but Fenton made only 6 appearances and didn’t score at all.

    By now Camsell was in his mid thirties and Fenton 23 but hadn’t as yet played as a centre forward. But the next three seasons saw the Boro finish in the top seven and crowds increase. The 1936/37 season started with a 2-0 home win over Manchester City but Camsell got injured. Fenton then made his debut as a centre forward as Boro won three of the next four matches and were top of the league with 12 points from 5 matches although Fenton only scored once. Despite that Wilf Gillow, the manager, dropped Fenton for the next six matches to be replaced by the now fit Camsell. Boro didn’t win any of those matches and dropped to 15th although Camsell did score a 🎩 trick in a 5-5 home draw with Sunderland. What do they say – never change a winning team!

    Mickey Fenton was then restored to the team initially at inside right but later as the centre forward, and didn’t miss another match as he finished with 22 goals in 35 matches whilst Camsell recorded 18 in 23 matches. Boro only lost once at home all season, ironically the last home match of the season 1-3 to Derby County, and finished 7th with 46 points. Fenton scored a 🎩 trick in a 3-2 home win over Manchester United, and also the equaliser at home to Arsenal when a crowd of 44,523 broke the ground record.

    The following season Boro again accumulated 46 points but finished two places higher in 5th place having been as low as 16th following a 3-5 defeat at Leeds on Christmas Day. Boro won the return match against Leeds 2-0 two days later and then Sunderland at home 2-1 on New Years Day where the ground record was again broken. Boro then won 12 and drew two of their next 16 matches which included a 6-1 win away to Manchester City, and was then followed by a 2-1 home win against Champions-to-be Arsenal before another ground breaking attendance of 46,747. Fenton scored both Boro goals, as he had in the previous match where Tommy Cochrane playing on the left wing scored the other 4 which I believe is the highest scored in a match by a winger playing for the Boro. Unfortunately one of those defeats in that 16 match sequence was by 0-1 away to Third Division York City in a 5th Round FA Cup match. Typical Boro??? A 1-0 win away to Leicester City at the beginning of April had taken Boro up to 3rd in the league, but four defeats in the last seven matches accounted for Boro’s final position of 5th with Fenton having scored 24 league goals in his 36 appearances, Camsell 9 in 24 matches.

    The last completed season before the Second World War saw Boro start with a 3-1 home win against Manchester United and saw Boro finish the season in 4th place on 49 points. It also saw 64 goals, the highest number of Boro goals ever scored at home in the First Division. However a 1-2 home defeat to Leeds in October saw Boro as low as 15th in the league, but they only suffered one more league defeat at home recording some large wins. In December Boro beat Blackpool 9-2 with Fenton scoring another 🎩 trick and Wilf Mannion going one better with four. A 5-1 home win over Stoke City on New Years Eve followed by another home win two days later 3-0 against Liverpool had Boro up to 3rd. The ground record was again broken in January when Boro unfortunately lost at home to Sunderland 0-2 in the FA Cup when the attendance was 51,080. Boro had already won 2-1 at Roker Park in October and were to complete only their second double over the Mackems when winning 3-0 in February, but the FA Cup defeat was recorded at the time as being a bitter pill to swallow.

    When Boro lost 1-6 at Wolves in March Boro’s chance of a first League title effectively had gone despite five successive wins later and including a 8-2 home win against Portsmouth before a paltry 6,116 spectators due to heavy rain. Blackpool extracted some revenge for their 9-2 defeat in December by winning 3-0, and if only Boro had won their last match at Villa Park instead of a 1-1 draw, they would have equalled their highest First Division League position of 3rd achieved in 1914.

    Boro scored 93 goals that season and for the first time ever, five players had reached double figures. George Camsell scored 10 in his 11 appearances, left winger Cliff Chadwick 11 in 19 matches, inside forward Benny Yorston 12 in 33 matches, Wilf Mannion 14 in 38 matches, and Mickey Fenton 34 in 33 matches. At last Fenton had arrived, and so had Boro as many pundits were speculating that Boro might win their first title in the next season. However Adolf Hitler intervened. Only three matches were played before the season was suspended and declared null and void. Boro lost at Villa 0-2, lost at Liverpool 1-4, and then drew 2-2 at home to Stoke City so perhaps the tipsters were way off beam as Boro, with only one point, were second from bottom to Leeds United at the time.

    When the war finished it was too late to restart Football League matches, but the FA decided to restore the FA Cup in 1945/46 with matches over two legs. Boro entered the competition as usual in January’s Third Round. They drew the away leg 4-4 at Leeds, won the second leg 7-2 with a Fenton 🎩 trick, took three matches to defeat Blackpool losing 2-3 at home, winning 3-2 at Blackpool and 1-0 with a George Hardwick penalty at Elland Road before losing 0-1 at home to Bolton then drawing 1-1 away in the Fifth Round. Football League matches resumed on 31st August 1946 and replicated the fixtures from the aborted 1939/40 season. Boro won 1-0 at Villa and by the same score at Liverpool before beating Stoke 5-4 and Mickey Fenton certainly decided to make up for his lost seven years by scoring four times.

    Fenton had guested for Port Vale, Notts County, Rochdale, Wolves and Blackpool during the war and Everton were keen to sign him, but having been born in Stockton and having played for South Bank East End in his former years, he was loyal to the Boro. With 147 league goals in 240 appearances he is Boro’s 5th highest goalscorer and had the war not robbed him of seven years of league football, he would possibly have made 500 appearances for Boro and maybe reached 300 goals or even possibly beaten George Camsell’s record of 325. His last match for Boro was on 21st January 1950, a 0-4 defeat at Villa Park and his only match of the season as he was recalled because of an injury to Peter McKennan. I was lucky as a ten year old to see his last goals for Boro on 11th December 1948, another 🎩 trick against Villa in a 6-0 win.

    Boro had been spoilt for goalscoring centre forwards with Jimmy McClelland making way for George Camsell and then Mickey Fenton taking over the mantle. But Fenton’s retirement as a player caused problems for the Boro with a succession of rather disappointing replacement centre forwards over the next 8 years. Andy Donaldson, Peter McKennan, winger Johnny Spuhler converted with some success with Alex McCrae as his scoring inside forward partner, Neil Mochan, Ken McPherson, an aging Charlie Wayman, and then the young Dougie Cooper who made only 8 scoreless appearances and was originally preferred to Brian Clough until he got injured.

    We all know what happened next. Brian Clough was the best centre forward I have ever seen wearing a Boro shirt, but Mickey Fenton was easily the second best in my time. What a triumvirate – Camsell, Fenton and Clough, all northeastern lads who played for the Boro. Obviously I never saw Camsell play; he is a legend in the history of Middlesbrough FC, but I reckon Mickey Fenton should be revered just as much, not only for his goalscoring record, but as one of the two people who had such an influence on the life of Brian Clough.

  59. Shame our Academy has not yet managed to produce a goal scorer to rekindle that old tradition but, I guess, that’s what all Academies are hoping for.

  60. What makes a striker? Today if you score ten goals a season no matter what position you play ,you are considered worth tens of millions.
    But. They are few that do it every season,
    I know the ball is different,but I’m wondering if coaches are teaching players the best way to take chances.
    Back in the day , I played on a regular basis against a player who went on to play professionally .
    He was a striker who scored thirty or more a season. what made him so sucesfull was the way he hit the ball, he very rarely put the ball over the bar,he always hit the target, by driving through the ball with such power ,head down,that if you got in the way ,it was painfull to say the least, and this was from any angle in the box.
    My point is are coaches more about a players overall game running etc, and not coaching the basics, and improving what that players job is?

  61. I think Southgate is a great appointment as England manager.

    We often hear about international managers not having enough time with their players, but in Gareth’s case he knows them from his days as Under 21 manager, which has to be a good thing.

    At least there is some continuity now between the managers and players. Should auger well for the future.

  62. Steely

    People have talked about the problems with English academy players not stepping up. Various reasons are given such as getting too much too you, being in a comfort zone, not enough edge, too robotic.

    I don’t know enough to agree or not but you can see some sense in those arguments.

    Maybe they just don’t get the chances and patience to allow them to develop, short termism rules in football.

    We were lucky and had our ‘golden’ generation where the academy produced loads of players who could play in the top flight. realistically if one or two break through in a season and several move on in to football you could argue the academy has done its job.

  63. I’m all for continuity but what if the manager isn’t up to the job in the first place?

    I wait to be pleasantly surprised at the Euros in 2020 as no matter who is in charge this World Cup it’s the quarters at best for me.

  64. The England manager has a chance because he does not have to buy the players, he does not have to motivate them, he does not have to accept whatever they choose to do,( he can obviously give them the chop)
    He does not have to get them fit, al these things are taken care of by the clubs.
    So we await his first job as manager when his time is up with England.

  65. I’m sure you have all noticed that Southgate is picking players he is familiar with and trusts. This is a bonus.

    In the past no matter who the manager was the same old players appeared in the squad and if the team struggled the press picked the team.

    In Southgate’s case he is his own man and by picking these surprise additions he is instilling and nurturing loyalty and effort primarily to him. There will be no lack of effort from this squad and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did rather well.

  66. Some thoughts on England, the World Cup, and tabloid journalism.
    Tabloid and broadsheet England-based newspapers want England to win the World Cup.
    Primarily because an English victory will significantly boost sales, if only in the very short term.
    Also because the sports desks are mostly staffed with English football fans. It’s important to remember hacks can also be fans.
    And many are. I used to play a regular five a side game with players drawn from the ranks of the national press, mostly sports subs. If nothing else, they could all talk a great game.
    Yes some support the ‘big’ clubs but most don’t, being similar to myself not from London. So on any given week I could be playing against fans of Newcastle, Ipswich, AFC Wimbledon and so on.
    Many if not all of the sports subs have been reporters at some point in their career and were capable of the journalist equivalent of doing the business on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke. Mostly by having to go a cover a match at Stoke on said rainy night.
    These guys love football, play it, watch it, write about it and talk about it far more than is good for themselves.
    They are a cynical, knowledgeable and passionate crowd and will celebrate with the best of them in the unlikely event of an England win.
    You can’t blame reporters for Steve Mac’s team capitulation against Croatia and Roy’s no-show against Iceland. The players also deserve to share the blame.
    Southgate has done little wrong but there’s plenty of time. He has the advantage of the weakest England squad since Graham Taylor capped Carlton Palmer. Taylor being the man who substituted Gary Lineker for Arsenal’s Alan Smith at Sweden ’92 in a game we needed to win.
    I agree with the poster above who suggested ‘Gate has the job due to his ability to avoid controversy and butter up the FA suits.

    As for the tournament, I imagine the Germans will take it, assuming Ronaldo’s ego and talent don’t inspire Portugal to a career-capping victory.

    *dons tin helmet

    1. I agree that Gareth is probably the nicest man for the job from an FA perspective and the thought of an another Allardyce type scandal left them with limited room for manoeuvre.

      The options for a National team coach are fairly limited, they tried a foreign one in Sven and that had the same trajectory as all the others since Sir Alf. Would Wenger perhaps be an ideal choice, if so he wasn’t available at the right time assuming he would even be interested and the FA would want him.

      If we want to stick with English (or at least from these Islands) Managers for England then the list of “Top” ones is severely restricted, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson, Paul Clement, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Steve McClaren, Tony Pulis, Steve Bruce? Three of them have already had the gig, I don’t think that Dyche’s persona and style would lend itself to being an effective “Country Manager”. Is Eddie Howe a better bet than Southgate and indeed if he were to replace Southgate would the Tabloids be supportive of his appointment? Underwhelmed I suspect would be the most complimentary thing at very best and thats being kind.

      I doubt Pardew would be well received, or indeed Pulis for that matter (putting aside his Welsh ancestry). Paul Clement has thus far achieved nothing of major note but Steve Bruce may be available very soon if thats anyone’s cup of tea? An outside wild card could perhaps be Brendan Rodgers who again I suspect may not be universally popular for all sorts of reasons.

      Its a difficult call, no appointment will gain universal acclaim and being honest this week we saw Players who didn’t make their Countries squads and we were in awe of many who would like as not be nailed on had they been English. The best Players in the Premier League aren’t English there are a few decent English ones but we are talking one or two, perhaps stretch it to three. If there was a European best eleven how many English Players would be in the squad let alone the starting eleven?

      As Mogga is oft quoted “it is what it is”. I seem to recall Gareth Southgate’s youngsters managing to win a tournament which was more than many before him had achieved. Those youngsters are now in their twenty’s and theoretically at their peak. They have played under Southgate for a considerable period off time now, they know him and he them and they have won something together previously.

      We know as Club Captain Gareth was a great leader. His introduction to management with Boro however was an ill timed and ill fated baptism of fire whilst being undermined all the way through it by having his best players moved out and no scouting network in place to support him in replacing them. He has to take a share of the blame of course, it went with the job title, but since then he has gone on to learn about Management, take all his badges and worked his way up the FA not purely through being a Gentleman but by actually achieving a tournament win.

      Putting aside getting behind him and giving him a chance, who else is out there?

    1. We need an attacking midfielder of his type. And he is the right age of 24 years. But it is a different story if Tony Pulis wants him and if he is good enough for a promotion push next season. Up the Boro!

  67. With Boro said to be keeping an eye on the James Morrison contract situation at West Bromwich regarding a possible transfer, we all remember his dismissal for a reckless lunge at Christian Ronaldo in the FA Cup Quarterfinal replay in 2007, and I was wondering if it was the fans ‘favourite’ dismissal by a Boro player.

    Probably the most famous dismissal of a Boro player though was that of goalkeeper Dave Cumming against Arsenal at Ayresome Park on 7th December 1946. Apparently Cumming felt he had been repeatedly fouled by the Gunners centre half Leslie Compton, the brother of Test cricketer Dennis Compton.
    When Compton fouled him again he laid him out with a punch and apparently took off his jersey and walked off the field before the referee confirmed his dismissal. Boro though won the match 2-0.

    The most bizarre dismissal of an opposition player against Boro though occurred against Oldham Athletic on Easter Saturday 1915. Oldham were challenging for the First Division title but felt a lot of free kicks had been wrongly given against them and were also frustrated at losing. When Oldham’s Billy Cook gave away a penalty for foul play, Walter Tinsley scored his third goal from the spot to put Boro 4-1 ahead. Shortly after Cook was given his marching orders after another foul but refused to leave the pitch. The referee then abandoned the match in the 55th minute, but the Football League allowed the result to stand. Cook received a 12 month ban, and Oldham subsequently finished second only one point behind Everton.

    1. Tony McAndrew laying out Sean Elliott at Roker Park, and not bothering to wait for the inevitable red card and just walking off.

      1. GHW
        Thanks for reminding me of McAndrew’s dismissal, I’d forgotten about that one. However, Dave Cummings dismissal was before the advent of red cards and when minor fisticuffs were tolerated more, and in some instances might have resulted with just an admonishment. I didn’t witness the match but somewhere in the dim and distant past remember reading about it. What I find dramatic about it though was the fact that Cumming was reported to have discarded his jersey and handed it to the captain George Hardwick straight away. Presumably Arsenal were awarded a penalty, unless of course it was outside the area, but Boro won 2-0 and I can’t recall a mention being made of a penalty miss. I’ve scoured Google but haven’t as yet been able to find a report there. I don’t know whether anyone on this forum witnessed the match (Doug Wetherall perhaps) or if there is an archive of Gazette reports. Most probably though, I may have read about it in some ex-player’s memoirs.

        The Oldham match, however, is well documented as the first match incompleted where the result stood (and no, I wasn’t there either). There have been several since of course:-
        1. Denis Law scoring five minutes from time for Manchester City against his former club Manchester United which helped to relegate United in 1974. Pitch invaded and abandoned, City’s 1-0 win confirmed.
        2. Valley Parade fire disaster in 40th minute in May 1985, Bradford City 0-0 against Lincoln City in the last game of the season. Never replayed, result confirmed.
        3. Blackpool 0-0 v Huddersfield in May 2015 after 48th minute crowd invasion of pitch demonstrating against the club’s owner. Never replayed, result confirmed.

        There may be several others, but one interesting abandonment occurred in the First Division fixture between Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa on the 26th November 1898 when bad light caused the abandonment in the 79th minute with the home team leading 3-1. The Football League ruled that the match should be eventually completed, and the remaining 10 and a half minutes were played FOUR MONTHS later on the 13th March 1899 when Wednesday scored another goal to make the result 4-1.

    2. It was certainly one of the most satisfying red cards Ken. I know it’s not right to think it, but it was just a shame the sly one wasn’t really hurt at the time.

    3. Ken
      It was 11 years ago that Morrison was sent off for a reckless tackle.
      How many players get 11 Years at the top?
      Please god someone calls a halt to this madness of buying players with no future in the game.

      An article in the nationals today, detailing where various players were four seasons ago, read it and weep, those mentioned were scattered throughout the lower leagues. There to be bought by anyone who was energetic enough to locate them.
      So tell me, why are we fishing in waters full of burned out cases?

  68. Werder, I hope you can file the historical gems written by Ken. They should be having a headline and filed in the correct place under his historical file.

    Very enjoyable to learn more about Boro history and players of the past. Up the Boro!

    1. Nice thought, Jarkko probably not practical. Nostalgia and history of Middlesbrough FC is not everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes a current event jogs my memory of something in the past which leads me to do some research. I’m happy to do that when time allows but have usually only covered the period from the mid 1920’s onwards. However, there are probably some good stories to tell about the early 1900’s but that may have little interest to most folk, but my records do go back to 1882 when Boro participated in the Cleveland Cup and the Northern League thereafter. Between 1876 to 1882 Boro’s matches were mainly friendly ones, usually against local rivals, but several against Scottish teams, although I haven’t the results for those years. But if there is some interest, l’ll try to oblige.

      1. Ken

        The Summer months are generally quiet so an ideal time for a bit of nostalgia and I can’t think of anywhere better to have the respect duly afforded to those early days than in here. When we are long gone hopefully the future generations of Boro fans can delve in here and see that “Typical Boro” wasn’t just something that they had to live through!

      2. It’s all my cup of tea Ken, and I think for quite a lot of us in here as well.
        You are managing to do what a lot of us would love to have time to do.
        Thanks for sharing your precious time and knowledge .

  69. Events at Villa Park are seemingly getting worse by the day. Was Keith Wyness their Chief Executive suspended for wanting to pay HMRC the £40M they seemingly owed or relieved from his duties for letting them get into that state or as rumoured in some quarters was he plotting a takeover coup behind owner Tony Xia’s back? Apparently the billionaire owner can’t (or won’t) get his money out of China so Administration now becomes a possibility.

    A brilliant piece of Management advice I was given many decades ago as a rookie Manager was “you don’t get yourself into those situations in the first place” (not directed at me I hasten to add but to a more senior colleague). It would appear to be too late now for Villa to have heeded such wise words but it does beg the question about how fair would it have been had Villa actually achieved promotion?

    Apart from that question of fairness there is the bigger one of responsibility and the pressure of getting your club into the land of greed at any and all costs. The advent of the obscene amount of cash thrown at the Premiership is the causation of creating Championship scenes akin to the deck of the Titanic in those last few hours. What has been created by the authorities is horrible and irresponsible by those very individuals entrusted to be in charge of the game, watching the scramble for footballing life jackets and life boats.

    A rumoured undervalued interest from a New York Yankees shareholder may provide Tony Xia with an escape route (along with a badly dented bank balance) but even that may not be acceptable or indeed happen in time. Selling off assets appears to be their only realisable option. The backdrop of the fire sale will of course result in bargain hunters gathering. Grealish will be their main cash cow but I doubt his sale would have raked in anything near the £40M they allegedly owe HMRC even before the Vulture’s gathered. Chester is a decent CB at this level and perhaps ready for the Premiership, the sale of the pair of them might just scrape enough to keep the tax man at bay but when can they conclude those sales and for how much remains to be seen.

    JT will be long gone by now and eagerly looking for his next pay check. Snodgrass has returned to the Hammers and even Steve Bruce and Aggers will be left considering their personal options. Its unlikely the loss of their key players and budget replacements will effect a turnaround in their fortunes any time soon as ex Villain Gareth Southgate can certainly testify to. Throw in the ageing factor to the current Villa squad and things generally look pretty desolate. Jedinak is very good at this level (as we know to our cost) but at 34 come the start of the next season hardly likely to attract many offers. The same applies to Chris Samba and Glenn Whelan both 34 years old and of course “Adama minder” Alan Hutton at 33.

    Then of course there is AA, at 30 years old an interesting time for him, certainly one of the best at this level and likely to attract a few admiring glances from top end Championship sides and from those just dropped down. A Swansea or Stoke would certainly be interested in such an experienced player who scores goals. I doubt either of their Birmingham neighbours could afford him as they look to similarly tighten belts. Maybe a certain NE side may take an opportunistic second glance?

    Villa now face reduced parachute payments of a reported £16M this season and along with FFP requirements it all makes for a very bleak future at Villa Park. Many of us on here moaned that we didn’t get Snodgrass on loan when Villa did. That Villa were prepared to meet £42K a week of his alleged £60K a week earnings is perhaps one very good reason why SG decided against such a deal. Having ambitions and desire to smashing the league is one thing, being stupid enough to try it is something else!

    1. nb. “My bad” on re-reading the above. The £40M is what they owe the tax man and coming in under the FFP rules combined, their actual tax bill is around £4M to £5M of that.

    2. Yes, it looks like Villa will soon be in the same state as Hartlepool was in earlier this year.

      First I would not like a foreign owner for Boro – especially from China. Secondly I feel sorry for the Villa fans. It looks like they are closer to League One than Premier league next season.

      It might help Boro, but I feel sorry for all Villa fans, players and their manager.

      Up the Boro!

    3. RR
      We can talk about clubs trying for the Prem and coming unstuck, but for a club without a team to get into the Prem. is a disgrace. Fulham had eight loanees, most from.London clubs and all very promising players who were well beyond Fulham’s pocket.
      this situation is out of control and should be given the chop asap.
      Kill the loan system, and there will be plenty of young players freely available to play every week for a whole host of clubs who at present cannot afford them.
      One thing that has emerged from the greedy storing of hundreds of young players, is the bleeding obvious fact that the great players emerge where they will. Unfortunately the warehousing of young players still pays off for the giants, because they sell half a dozen youngsters who are not good enough, and help to pay for the great player. Simples really. Heads I win, and tails you lose.
      Only it’s the whole of football who lose to their greed.

      1. Its the footballing equivalent of frozen embryos just in case! Sadly most never fulfil their potential. Loans should be emergencies only and clubs should have limits put on the number of players they can hold on their books. Premiership clubs have young lads on obscene salaries sitting doing nothing or being constantly loaned out many of whom will never get anywhere near the first team of their parent club.

  70. The problems at Villa would increase if Bruce and Agnew left.

    The loan players who played such an important part have left, Albert, Grealish and Chester look certain to leave.

    The older players mentioned will probably be on substantial packages would any Championship want them AND their wages.

    A mess indeed.

    As for Tony Xia, the well known saying applies.

    ‘How do you make a small fortune in football?’

    ‘You start with a large one!’

  71. The loan system is a strange one, although I’m not a big fan of it, considering the poor permanent signings we have made over the years, a Ramirez loan makes it worthwhile sometimes.
    In fact paying a little over the odds on wages for top talent maybe the wat to go.
    Loaning potential rarely works out.

  72. I know it is probably only lazy newspaper talk, but why do we keep getting linked with all these old, over the hill, injury prone players??

    Or have MFC and TP some aces up their sleeves in terms of young-ish, pacy good footballers. Midfielders that is.

  73. Plato

    I agree the loan system is fatally flawed and needs overhauling. And that’s not simply because MFC seem to be absolutely useless at utilising it to their best advantage.

  74. It’s interesting Everton have to offload something like ten to twelve players in order to get the squad down to a manageable number, they do have some expensive signings and players close to the first team, that seem out of favour?

  75. For thos that may be interested U21. Toulon tournament semi final, England v. Scotland with Dael Fry playing is live on the following free channels:

    Sky (422), Freeview (95), Freesat (252), BT/TalkTalk(95)

    Come on BORO.

  76. RR –

    I will be delighted if Southgate confounds my expectations and wins the World Cup. I agree the FA’s choices were limited and also feel they weren’t too disappointed to find he was the last man standing in the selection process. Yet I also suspect his family friendly public persona played weighed on the committee hive mind to an unhealthily large degree.

    On a different note I’m intrigued by the mentality of managers who want a job which very much akin to being Prime Minister, seems geared to induing insanity in the incumbent. In both cases the occupant of the hot seat is invariably ushered in and out, fired with enthusiasm.

    The England manager’s job seems a Sisyphean task, a self-inflicted punishment on those whose personalities include, to varying amounts and regardless of sporting qualities, of bravery, vanity and foolishness.

    How driven and ego-fuelled does an individual have to be to believe they have the qualities to heal a nation’s 52 years of hurt?

  77. Exmil, I saw that Fry played about 85 min yesterday. Any comments how well he played?

    Most probably he will miss a couple of first weeks of pre-season training again.

    I wish we would see Ben and Dael together in the first team next season. That and Ayala as a back up and possibly Shotton in there, too.

    We will need a couple of full backs next. Of course Tony Pulis can make Barragán a proper right back, you never know. Most people wrote off Traore when Pulis joined Boro. So never say never 🙂

    A tall right back needed and then George on the left. We could use Barragán and Fabio as cover and especially when chasing a game.

    Up the Boro!

  78. Ken

    Hale and Pace are a couple of years younger than me but come from London, Boycs was probably the stubborn Tyke that sprung to mind.

    Fiery Fred might have escaped their consciousness with his ‘I don’t know what’s going off out there?’ on Test Match Special.

    1. We Northerners have a sense of humour though and can usually laugh at ourselves. The best comedians in my opinion were Northerners and most of them came from Lancashire –
      Tommy Handley (ITMA, it’s that man again), Rob Wilton, Ted Ray (timing almost on a par with Bob Hope), Arthur Askey, Ken Platt, Al Read, Les Dawson, Eric Sykes, Ken Dodd, Jimmy Tarbuck, et al. There’s something about Lancastrian sense of humour and David Lloyd epitomises that. Even Stanley Holloway (a Cockney) copied it with his monologues. Who can forget those about Albert Ramsbottom – Albert and the Lion, The return of Albert, and my favourite Runcorn Ferry. Also ‘Three Ha’pence a Foot’ which was about Noah building an ark which included the following famous verse about Bury (where black puddins is made) :-

      It rained and it rained for a fortni’t,
      And flooded the ‘ole countryside.
      It rained and it kep’ on raining,
      ‘Til the Irwell were fifty miles wide.
      The ‘ouses were soon under watter,
      And folks to the roof ‘ad to climb.
      They said it were rottenest summer
      That Bury ‘ad ‘ad for some time.

      I once met a raconteur/cartoonist from Colne in the Algarve and he wrote the following:-
      The Belgians have a taste for chocolates
      The Dutch have a taste for herrings
      The French have a taste for snails
      The Germans have a taste for sauerkraut
      The Greeks have a taste for moussaka
      The Italians have a taste for spaghetti
      The Portuguese have a taste for sardines
      The Spanish have a taste for paella
      The Swiss have a taste for cheese
      The Scots have a taste for haggis
      The Irish have a taste for Guinness
      The Welsh have a taste for leeks
      But the English, well they have no taste at all!

      It is still framed in the reception area of the complex where I stay in the Algarve, and most foreigners think it’s hilarious and that it might upset the English. When anyone remarks about it to me I say that we English also find it amusing because WE have a sense of humour. After all, we’re called Limeys by the Yanks, Poms by the Aussies, and Sassenachs by the Scots and do we care?

      1. Loved that Ken. I haven’t heard (read) Stanley Holloway’s Lancashire diatribes for many years. Simply brilliant. My parents both came from that part of the world (having had the good sense to have their last three offspring born in Yorkshire as Middlesbrough was then part). Still have relatives around Bury, and by ‘eck lad, thems all like that…truly 😉

  79. Jarkko, U21 only play 80 minutes but you are right he was took off when England went 3-1 up after about 75 minutes, I think more to rest him for the final and to give another centre back some game time.

    To me, he looked very calm and assured, everything started from him and when the midfield had nowhere to go, he was always in a position to receive the ball and never gave it away.

    If Ben Gibson leaves this summer I would be more than happy to see him as a first choice centre back, I think he will play for the England senior team in the future.

    Come on BORO.

  80. I see that the Jonathan Walters rumours have resurfaced again this morning in the press as they try and fill column inches. A one goal in five Striker who will be 35 years young in September is what we desperately need to win promotion this year. Maybe we can encourage Woody out of retirement who is only three sprightly years his senior to play alongside that other sprightly albeit slightly creaking stalwart Robert Huth also rumoured to be rejoining.

    Hopefully we can pull in 37 year old Peter Crouch to play alongside Walters and use the Bamford and Assombalonga money to pay their wages whilst we pour good money after bad down the Riverside drain in a desperate effort to replicate the McClaren era and strive to be more like Aston Villa.

    If we can offload Traore we could bring in 39 year old wide man Damien Duff for a bit of pace and energy down the flanks. Of course if all the above comes to pass it means that the youngster Stewart Downing will have to drop down and play for the under 21’s as he gains some much needed experience and maturity. The good news in all this is that 39 year old fans favourite Dimi will now be rewarded with a 5 year contract as TP builds a team around experience in an effort to get us promoted next season.

    Meanwhile the Clubs’s sponsor on next seasons soon to be revealed Hummel shirts will be Tena pants for Men!

      1. And none of us should scoff cos there but for the grace of …many of us will be there as well and much sooner than we’d like to think!

  81. So we know now that Tena is in the front and Ramsdens have moved to the back side of the Boro shirt 😉

    Tena fits on the white band better.

    Exmil, I never realised the U21s play only 80 min.

    Good to hear Fry is getting game time at that level. Let’s hope we one day have two full England internationals at centre back.

    Up the Boro!

    1. That would be very interesting if true as 32 Red’s logo is white lettering on a Red Background. That in itself would either indicate no white band or the shirt advertising just below the band with the club badge presumably on the band.

      Knowing MFC’s marketing department we will probably have no white band but be told that “the artistic white design of the 32 Red logo splashed across the chest is a tribute to the iconic white band and in keeping with the nostalgia for which we know many of our fans yearn for and is a reflection of our clubs great history” or some such clap trap.

  82. There’s a great interview with Neville Southall in the Sports section of The Guardian online today in the ‘Catch Up’ section.
    It may not be everyone’s cup of tea as there’s not much about football in it, but if you dislike Piers Morgan as much as I do it may raise a chuckle.

  83. Nigel

    Had a read of that the other day and I agree it was a really good piece.

    In the era of over priced, over hyped prima donnas he comes across as genuinely trying to help lots of different sections of the community, without seeking self publicity.

    By far and away the best keeper of his era in my opinion. How much would he cost in today’s over inflated transfer market.

  84. With regards to transfers in/out everything is just speculation and rumour, until the club announce a departure or arrival I will take everything with a pinch of salt but I still will let people know if I hear something that has not been mentioned.

    Come on BORO.

  85. Like to get Forrestieri from sheff we’d, better than what we have now.
    Yes Nigel , Piers Morgan is the sticker child for narcissism, can’t stand him.

  86. GT

    Only if he stopped the rediculous amount of cheating he does by diving.


    The rumor mill will start to crank up over the coming weeks and I take them all with large pinches of salt. As long as we’re not linked with non scoring 30+ forwards and non attacking central midfielders I’m quite happy to read about improbable signings allegedly sighted at Rockcliffe or the Tontine.

    I actually don’t believe anything until they’re pictured alongside a grinning Niel Bauser, pen in hand or holding up the latest Boro home shirt.

  87. Quite handy, if you have lost money on Red32 as chest sponsors, you could look to the back side of the shirt for a place to find some more from Ramsdens. A path for the poor fans. UTB!

    1. I was thinking the same thing Jarkko, blow all your money on 32 Red then get a loan from Ramsdens to pay off the debts and loan sharks. Maybe down one side of the shorts we could then get a firm of specialist debt Solicitors sponsoring us and for good measure the Samaritans number on the other leg.

  88. Werder

    You must be one of those in the know as the club have confirmed 32 Red as the “principal shirt partner” with Ramsdens logo appearing on the back.

    I’ll take more interest in any transfer titbits you come up with from now on as you’re in the know😉

    1. Heaven forbid that football shirt sponsorship goes down the same route as Super League where the logos of minor sponsors appear on the sleeves and even on the shorts of some teams. I expect eventually we’ll see them on players’ socks next. What with players wearing different coloured boots, and limbs covered by psychedelic tattoos it’s like watching excerpts from Tim Rice’s ‘Joseph and the Amazing Coloured Dreamcoat’ sometimes.

    1. The amounts being forked out are ridiculous and unsustainable. One or more of these huge organisations are going to catch a cold and the sooner the better. Consumers are becoming more savvy (probably through necessity in many cases) and only the very well off or stupid will pay for subscriptions to all of these broadcasters.

      Meantime perhaps HMRC should take a look at some of these deals and specifically where the funds are coming from and how much the tax paying British public are “perhaps” having their eyes poked out in more ways than one.

      The KO times are now so scattered and random that having a Season card in the Premiership requires flexibility beyond all sense of reason. Some will question if they can attend as many games as previously with the time changes. Many will question why bother to have a Subscription to Sky or BT if I can no longer be guaranteed to see the games I want and like myself will have long since cancelled both, quite happy to sit on my £20 contract instead of over £100 a month. My Amazon Prime lasted about ten minutes when I realised they had conned me into registering for it a while back simply because I happened to tick the wrong delivery option. Needless to say I haven’t bought anything from Amazon since nor will.

      Phone retailers are now feeling the pinch as customers no longer renew and upgrade phones instead keeping the one they have that works fine and paying £10 a month for Sim only deals rather than upwards of £60 for the latest frustrating and all interfering, all seeing, spying, talking computer in your pocket. Everything has a saturation point and personally I can’t wait to see the house of cards collapse.

      The World Cup like the FA Cup Final used to be compulsive viewing for me but has also sold its soul to the point where I will take a passing interest in it but little more. I used to franticly try and arrange my work schedule around KO times and certain match days now I couldn’t even tell you when it starts and who is playing who when and where and in which groups. I realise that I am probably not the main target audience but my generation is the one with the disposable cash and most stupidly the ones that they had and have now lost. Strangely I don’t find greed, corruption and cheating entertaining, I would much rather read about Ken’s trips down memory lane instead.

      1. RR, Well said I agree. The World Cup is now of passing interest, the Boss and I used to watch as many games as work allowed bu now it is a cynical sideshow, just look at where it is being held.

        Bang on about Ken too. In fact Collated Boro News is a better read.



  89. Interesting that Amazon see it as a loss leader. Facetiously they say new subscribers will stick around having liked what they have seen, when in reality people don’t realise they have to cancel the subscription after 30 days, or it stays in effect until they see it’s still active.

  90. As we now know, Middlesbrough FC (or as it was first named Middlesbrough Association) was discussed at a meeting of cricket club members at the suggestion of a certain Frederick Thompson on 20th October 1876 in a gymnasium behind the Albert Park Hotel in Linthorpe Road. Others known to be present were Fred Hardisty, Jackson Ewbank and Charles Booth who were to eventually become Boro players. A further meeting took place within a month at the Talbot Hotel and the first practice match was reputed to be held in Albert Park. It was nothing like a practice match we would expect to see today, as some players wore their normal apparel, whilst others wore different colours of shirts. It was very haphazard as about 70 players were split into two teams in a 30 minute kickabout, but eventually some of the less enthusiastic players became spectators, but how many is not recorded. However I imagine it would be a nightmare for Tony Pulis to evaluate the merits of such a large number of players, but the aforementioned Fred Thompson seemed to be a prominent player.

    Eventually a match was arranged against Tyne Association but there doesn’t seem to be a report of that match nor a match against the local rugby union side Tees Wanderers. However a further match against Tees Wanderers is recorded as the first official match. It was recorded as Middlesbrough FC versus Tees Wanderers played on 24th February 1877 at the old Archery ground in Albert Park and finished as a 1-1 draw. The formation of the team was 2-2-6 and Boro’s goal was scored by Jackson Ewbank, one of the attendees at the inaugural meeting. Middlesbrough FC only lost once during their first three years of existence, that being 0-1 away to Barnard Castle on 22nd December 1877.

    So attractive had Middlesbrough FC become that attendances started to creep up to the 200 mark especially against local rivals such as Loftus and Eston that after a match between the first and second teams on 12th October 1878 it was decided to move to Grove Hill but that too couldn’t accommodate the larger attendances and within a year they would need to move again following a 3-0 home win against Loftus on 7th February 1880 in which Jackson Ewbank scored a 🎩 trick. Later that month after moving to Middlesbrough Cricket Ground Middlesbrough FC beat Tyne Association 4-1, but needed to spread their wings as far as Sheffield where they competed in the Sheffield Cup and one tie against Redcar in October 1880 attracted a record crowd of about 2,500.

    All matches up to that time had been friendlies, so the Sheffield Cup became a good innovation as did the Cleveland Cup which Middlesbrough FC won in each of its first six seasons and in the first five it was Redcar they defeated in the final (twice after replays). The last of those against Redcar attracted a crowd of about 7,000 in a 8-1 replay win following a goalless draw at Darlington. The sixth success was in 1888 and a 3-0 win against Stockton at Darlington. The last season of the Cleveland Cup saw Middlesbrough’s biggest ever win – a first round 16-0 success against South Stockton, but I’m pleased to say a 0-1 defeat in the Semifinal to Redcar.

    During that period Middlesbrough FC also participated in the FA Cup. Their first match was a 1-5 home defeat to the Derbyshire club of Staveley on 10th November 1883. In 1886 after 2-1 wins against Gainsborough Trinity and Grimsby Town they lost 1-2 in the 5th Round to Redcar on the 23rd January.
    Incidentally Redcar played their home matches on Coatham Road Cricket Ground and had already beaten Sunderland there in the first round in two successive seasons but were subsequently beaten in the Quarterfinals on the 13th February 2-0 away to Small Heath Alliance (now Birmingham City).
    Middlesbrough FC did however reach their first Quarterfinal in 1888, but having beaten the Sheffield team of Hallam 6-0, Whitburn 4-0 and South Bank 4-1 all at home in the qualifying rounds they were held to a 2-2 draw at Linthorpe Road and lost the away replay 2-4. However Sunderland were then disqualified after Middlesbrough complained about the professionalism of three Scottish players in the Sunderland team. So duly reinstated Middlesbrough beat Old Foresters at home 4-0 before losing 0-2 again at home to Crewe Alexandra.

    At last League matches came into vogue in 1889 as Middlesbrough FC entered the Northern League, and I’ll review that period and the battles with Middlesbrough Ironopolis at a later date.

  91. I see The Damned United is currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

    I forgot Gordon McQueen was a Leeds United player at the time. A prime candidate for an interview OFB?

      1. I’ve asked Bernie Slaven and he’s flatly refused. He said he is too busy writing his own books.. He bluntly said this in front of Mark Proctor who was quite clearly embarrassed with Bernie’s refusal. Mark himself had just done an interview with me which should be posted next week. Mark did urge me to ask him again on a later meeting but in my view I only ask once “I a’int begging for them to talk”

        Sad really as Bernie was one of my heroes and I felt slighted by hi refusal.

        There are also a couple of others who have managed to dodge me but I’ve put this down to old age (theirs not mine )

        I’m currently working on David Hodgson who gave a smashing interview. Jeff Winter, Craig Harrison,Neil Maddison as well who are great and were keen to tak to Diasboro.

        Doug and I are also doing another diary excerpt with Colin Todd so theres plenty in the melting pot.

        I’ll add Gordon McQieen to the list that’s a good shout


      1. OFB, he lives locally and I have met him in Dormo’s local.

        One of the players I learned my English from – he used to write regularly in Shoot! when I was a kid. A great player and coach, too. Up the Boro!

  92. These hormone injections make me very emotional at times, and reading Jermaine Defoe’s comments after being awarded an OBE that he would trade all his honours to have Bradley Lowery back in his life brought tears to my eyes. Cynical? No? I for one believe him.

    1. Because the players earn so (or too) much money in the modern football, we tend to think they are all spoiled because oF that. But there must be several clever sportsmen among them and some decent, honest chaps as well. Like our George, Ben or Defoe.

      I admire Jermaine, really. A former Sunderland player but still. A Good guy if ever.

      Up the Boro!

  93. I wonder how many article they could break an OFB in to, how many pop ups you would have to brave to get to the end.

    The fact Bernie wouldn’t do one is a reflection on the man.

    1. Surprised at Bernie’s response, perhaps it was just bad timing. For Bernie’s part he is revered by many and especially the generation who mainly frequent this board and usually doesn’t shy away from any publicity.

  94. I know I’m going to rough some feathers, but I never thought Kenny Dagleish was a world class player, he was fantastic inside the box, turning defenders if they committed to the tackle, and scored important goals,but I wouldn’t have put him right up there, with the likes of Pele, Ravelino, Best, Charlton, even a Bobby Moore, Rivera, Marradonna, many more.
    I just never ever got it about the worship of him?
    But that’s just me,

    1. I always thought Dalglish was a very good player and one of the best in the UK of his era but certainly not a “World Class” one. Having said that I never thought that Bobby’s Moore or Charlton were either, again just among the UK best of their era.

  95. OFB

    Just been catching up so a very belated thanks for another terrific article. This and GHW’s post alerted me into watching The Damned United again yesterday – what a blog!

    Shame Bernie wasn’t interested but it sounds like you’ve got plenty more up your sleeve. Who’d have thought we’d have even more to read and discuss following the demise of Untypical Boro? Diasboro goes from strength to strength.

    I see England U21s won a third straight Toulon Tournament yesterday with Dael on the scoresheet. Congrats to him. Will he be starting for Boro next season? He needs to be starting somewhere.

    In terms of transfers, on the assumption that Traore leaves, I think the most efficient option might to switch to a 532-type formation. That way, as far as the first XI is concerned, we may only need a creative midfielder/no. 10. If we stick with a 433, we’ll need a couple of wide players and a creative centre mid.

    Any word on Leadbitter’s future? I’m expecting him, Traore and Johnson to go. Gibson, I’m not so sure.

  96. Good result for the U21’s. Elsewhere for English fans pretty sparse pickings with defeat for the rugby and women’s cricket teams, Hamilton trails after the grand prix qualifying.

    1. But Tai Woffinden did us proud in the ‘Speedway of Nations’ winning 12 and one second place in his 13 rides. After 42 heats we led Russia by one point and Tai even won the Final raceoff, but the quirks of the competition meant that second and third places get a bonus point over first and fourth, so Great Britain had to settle for the silver medal. Tremendously exciting racing though!

  97. There seems to be a right furore by some bloggers especially on the Gazette website about the choice of Red32 as the club’s sponsors, and also a backlash from some stating they won’t be buying a shirt with that logo on it. It’s strange how in the last century the furore was about the club changing its design every season, exploiting the fans, etc. Not being a gambler (don’t even buy a lottery ticket) I’d never heard of Red32 but never buy any clothing with the name of the manufacturer on it. I’ve always taken the view that having purchased something, why should I then give free advertisement for it. Surely the manufacturer should pay me for advertising their product or at least give me a huge discount!

    As for replica shirts anyway, in my opinion such shirts look ridiculous on the older generation well past their playing days. I can understand it more if one wore an identical shirt to the team but without the advertising logos, but then I come from a generation when a Boro scarf and a rosette identified which team one supported, also much cheaper to purchase. The whole situation about football today is the exploitation of the fans in what was once the working man’s game. Sad really.

    1. Interesting that you mention the Gazette website Ken, it seems it has now become “Teesside Live”. Far be it from me to speculate but is the printed version now approaching its demise?

  98. To the right of all our posts on here there are some links that perhaps get overlooked and often ignored as we scrawl down the page reading the debates on here.

    There are two that are worthy of a read (albeit not directly Boro related) this Sunday morning over your relaxed (hopefully) Tea or Coffee from AV’s Untypical Boro twitter account.

    The first one reveals is startling in what it reveals about the financials of the pure greed culture and of course long term sustainability of the Premiership especially Clubs under foreign ownership. For those wondering what I mean about “sustainability” read the second article from the Mirror on Villa’s plight. Foreign ownership (just ask Sunderland fans) doesn’t always equal success but when it goes wrong it can implode big style.

    Most of us on here will recall Denis Law’s goal line flick for Man City against his beloved Man Utd that saw them relegated. We also recall Man City being in the third tier scraping a very slender Play Off win on penalties against Gillingham (managed by TP) sparking their revival. The blinkered belief or thought that it couldn’t happen to them is the only thing that keeps these top 6 afloat, well that and billions in cash I suppose. If it does happen to any of them I suspect there is absolutely no chance of recovery from their collective Financial fate.

    The top 6 are on a self preservation drive, determined to squeeze money out of the game from lower down to feed their frenzy. In doing so they will have no competition left and therefore the predictability and bias will become such that as a spectacle it no longer becomes sport let alone entertainment. I may be guilty of being blinkered and I suspect that OFB may disagree but the amount of decisions that seemingly go the way of the big 6 in games is ruining the Premiership as a viewing spectacle. Our brief sojourn last year and watching supposed superstars successfully cheat and dive to influence games sickened me and is one of the reasons I cancelled my Sky subscription. Personally I don’t enjoy watching Sane, Sterling, Alli, Welbeck and co. defraud officials and fans alike.

    The Premiership is getting closer to becoming one of those sad “reality” TV shows where ego and selfie induced bubbles block out real world events, a sweet, syrupy sugared creation for those viewers whose mental capacity actually struggle with reality. The Wiki definition of reality TV is this: ” a genre of television programming that documents supposedly unscripted real-life situations”. It could almost be the perfect trailer for Sky’s “Super Sunday”.

  99. Back on the subject of Boro’s shirts, in the late forties and throughout most of the fifties Boro’s shirt design never altered although the redness of the shirt did seem to become more scarlet as time went by. The shirts were always white, and the socks were red and white hoops. However the away strip was plain white royal blue shorts which embarrassingly faded after successive laundering into a shade of sky blue.

    Like all teams Boro always played in their red kit away from home unless there was a clash of colour. Most teams with red in their home shirts played in white with navy or black shorts when visiting Ayresome Park – Arsenal, Charlton, Liverpool, Sheffield United, Stoke and Sunderland, even Villa and Blackpool. The only team who didn’t change to white I recall were Manchester United who played in blue. I think there must have been a strict rule about a team having to always play in their normal registered colours in those days. Strangely though whenever I saw Boro play at home in the FA Cup against a team whose normal shirt contained red, Boro played in white.

    In the latest Tripe Supper the various colours of away shirts was discussed. I always thought that white shirts and socks would look smart with red shorts, or maybe there are strict regulations today against opposing teams having certain colours such as red, blue or green in their strips.

  100. Ken, every season I purchase a replica home shirt which I wear to every home game and I am 67 yrs young. In one of my drawers at home I have every home shirt since I moved back to the Northeast from Northern Ireland, don’t ask me why I keep them, they will probably accompany me in my coffin lol.

    I also have one of the last shirts Gareth Southgate wore playing for Boro, which is signed by every team member who was in that match day squad and the team sheet from the dressing room.

    The replica shirt is my way of showing who I support but I only wear it to matches (not on holiday or shopping etc) but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    Come on BORO.

    1. Exmil2017
      I agree with you that everyone is entitled to their opinion, just as everyone is entitled to wear what they wish.
      I too was proud to wear my red and white scarf and occasionally Boro rosette when following Boro away from home. I recall one instance when I was stationed at RAF Innsworth in Gloucestershire a pal and I decided to take the local train to Bristol where Boro were playing at Eastville Stadium in those days the Rovers ground. On arrival at Temple Meads station we asked some locals the way to the ground and at first they thought we were taking The Mickey because, as I was wearing my red and white scarf, they assumed we were City supporters. As it happened they were also going to the match so we went along with them. Friendly lads Bristolians, even after Boro had beaten them 2-0.

    2. I can’t see that logic. In my opinion it shows you support Red32. If replica shirts were sold without the sponsors logo I might agree with you, but I think the way replica shirts are sold is a confidence trick – a good one though, a host of walking billboards.

  101. I see that the press have had to move their ( moving ) target price for Traore up to twenty million.
    If there is a general agreement on that price, then we should play hard ball, just tell them that he will only be sold to a top club and the price is fifty million.
    They must get rid of these time wasters at the bottom of the Prem. it is not in his interest to waste his career keeping some dreadful club in seventeenth place in the Prem.

  102. More than that, RR, the Premium (or “Poo-mium” as I probably unfairly but temporarily dubbed it) Boro section has just vanished. I suppose you can access a couple of the decent articles in it if you remember them. I still have the link to one by John Nicholson, which I read on a free trial.

    Similarly, mine, Bernie’s and John Powls’ old blogs are still there – if you want to look for them.

    Apologies for the absence – I’ve been sick for the best part of a month. More later.

  103. I see that Braithwaite got 45 minutes against Mexico. Hope that he has game time in the WC and interests a few teams that may reduce our loss on him.

  104. As the interest builds in the world cup, with the first game getting closer, there seems to be a ground swell of opinion building up that fancies the lads getting involved in the latter stages of the tournament.
    It’s nice to see, but I cannot think that a collection of largely untried players will not stumble in the qualifying group.
    We are not a million miles from the set up for the euros in my opinion,
    We just knew then, that Kane was the main man ( forget Vardy, a fluke, don’t you know) now we are being told that some youth from Man Utd must be selected before Vardy,( I believe he slung a boot at the ball and it found the net, as youths do) the experts think that it means Mourino has been stifling his natural genius and that is why he has been awful for months. Hhhm! I’ll need to think about that.
    We will not even think about the speedy striker being Captain, perhaps they are fitting him with a swivel on his neck so that he can look both ways,
    In Stone we possess a car ready to crash, both elegant and slow, not a good combination against teams which will at the very least give a good impersonation of a road runner for 95 minutes.
    We shall see, as long as we steer clear of Iceland.

  105. Couldn’t agree more about Stones. The most over hyped footballer I can think of in my time of watching the beautiful game.

    And don’t even get me started on Phil Jones!

    1. Imagine if this was 1966 and the Internet had been around since the early fifties and blog sites like these were well established. My guess is that there would be many questioning Alf Ramsey’s credentials as England manager and not to mention having a Championship Physio alongside him.

      Imagine the outcry with a fit again Jimmy Greaves not selected because Ramsey had gone with Roger Hunt. That young lad Alan Ball from Blackpool hasn’t enough experience and will be toast at this level and alongside Nobby Stiles they are both too small and lightweight. Not only that but how Bank’s gets in instead of steady Ron Springett is a joke!

      Stones and Jones would fit into the above derisory comments but cometh the hour and all that.

      1. RR
        I think it is a given that success generally comes when you most expect it, that is when you have proven and experienced stars scattered throughout the team.
        That has been the norm with England. Plus it helps when you have a young force of nature just burst onto the scene to inject a touch of the unexpected.
        I’m thinking Gazza, or Owen.
        We keep doing what we did, and, surprise, surprise, we keep getting what we got.

        We could pick this team apart player by player, but what’s the point, they are limited.
        In the euro debacle, we decided that Kane was the man. He was not the man. Vardy was used when all else failed.
        We are going down that path this time.
        We should ask ourselves a question, which striker in the Prem is even near good enough to carry a mid table team to the Premiership title?
        Kane failed with a very good team around him, so how Vardy comes to be second pick to Kane beats me.

  106. More legendary Irish punditry for you all.

    From 2006…

    Eamon Dunphy (reading the Daily Telegraph): “God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. Today is such a day. A cloudless June sky, the oxen reposed in the shade of the mighty British Oak, the reek rising from a million barbecues, and England beginning its World Cup Endeavour.”

    Bill O’Herlihy (RIP): Ha ha ha, it’s the kind of thing that puts you off England, isn’t it?

    ED: There’s no irony in that. The Telegraph is an irony free zone. They think God is English. And if they win today, they’ll be rubbing our noses in it for years!

    (I should note, I don’t believe the panel had anything against England. It was more a comment on the media hyperbole. — Si)

    1. Simon,

      Reminds me of the nice story about Sam Beckett. A lovely Summer’s day. Sam walking down the street is met by a passer-by:

      “A beautiful morning Mr Beckett”

      “Indeed it is”

      “One of those mornings that makes you feel glad to be alive”

      “Oh, I wouldn’t put it quite as highly as that”.

      Hope you’re at least enjoying the good weather after your recent indisposition.

  107. I’ve just read the Gazette interview with Tony McMahon, a player I’ve always admired if only for his free kicks. I can see that Tony Pulis might be interested in signing James Morrison as he seems to like certain players who have played for him in the past, but would it be a gamble to sign a player in his early 30s especially as he’s been unavailable for most of last season through injury? We know that TP has identified the type of players he wants and the paper talk about Morrison and Jon Walters may not be too wide of the mark, though the latter is too old to contemplate in my opinion.

    Tony McMahon also thinks that Charlie Wyke would be a good signing, and I tend to agree with him there. I advocated his signing when Gary Monk was our manager. I think he could easily step up to Championship level and would make a good addition to our strike force or even as a replacement for Assombalonga if the transfer rumours to Turkey become true. However TP may opt for another 6ft plus type of striker in the Peter Crouch mould.

  108. Ken

    Wyke was an academy product who had several loan spells before signing for Bradford. A goal every other game is a decent return but e is on the small side I believe.

      1. I’m guessing that at 5ft 11in that makes him about 6in too short to comply with the Pulis dossier requirements. There again based upon all the recent media speculation he is probably about twenty years too young in any case!

  109. Jarkko
    I see another Finnish golfer has come to the fore and won his first European Tour event this weekend at the age of 37. I’ve noticed he’s been prominent lately but hadn’t heard of him until this year. Late developer perhaps?

    1. Yes, Mikko Korhonen has played as a professional for the past 14 years mainly in the Challenge Tour and European Tour for some 146 times. Last week was his first win ever.

      He is a matured guy and been around for ages. Don’t ask me what happened to him as won yesterday.

      He was ranked 200th last week, his best ever was 173 before today. Now he is 110th.

      I play golf with me wife but we do not have time to follow it on TV. Up the Boro!

      1. I had been doing an article called Talking Tactics on Come on Boro and John did View from the Away End.

        Mine looked at the previous match and previewed the up coming game. They started wanting my article earlier and earlier before we knew of any fitness news, Then they started putting articles on from the late Ali and another poster after mine. Basically they were covering the same ground with the benefit of up to date news so I stopped writing them because there was little point.

        I suspect it was all about hits on the site and promoting betting.

        1. And apart from our Werder and Redcar Red we have three professional journalists who provide input

          Si, Chris and Doug so it’s game set and match to Diasboro when you compare it to the Gazette team


  110. Just heard the sad news about Stan Anderson.

    Only player ever to captain the North East big 3 something which I doubt will ever happen again. He was manager when I started watching the Boro and just couldn’t get us up to the top flight.

    More than laid the foundations for when Big Jack took over.

    1. I’m wondering if they have special accessory robes and hoods to wear with them for flaming nights out in the deep south. Along with self driving cars I can’t see what harm can possibly come of them.

      Apparently out of around 200 nations only three of them still include a right to bear arms: Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. Out of those three, only the US doesn’t include detailed restrictive conditions on arms so no doubt anyone trying to prevent the sale of them will be labelled as a yeller bellied liberal.

  111. Kentucky Fried Chicken will take on a whole new meaning.

    Elsewhere, after a miserable weekend of sport a planning mistake shows up.

    The first rugby test in South Africa saw England prepare at sea level then fly up to the High Veldt two days before the match. Not surprisingly they rant our of puff at times.

    An old saying ‘No one plans to fail, sometimes they just fail to plan’

  112. My wife to be and I were at that promotion match when Stan Anderson was manager. My father worked at Ayresome Park and was friends with the then Secretary of the club Harry Green. We met Stan in the celebratory chaos after the game down by the tunnel and the other half got a kiss from Stan, she though he was a lovely man.

    A good manager, player and talent spotter. A real loss, I wish OFB could have interviewed him.



    1. Stan Anderson an epitaph from Doug Weatherall

      The North-East has lost one its most significant figures. Only he captained the area’s three main clubs. And I have lost a friend.
      My most poignant memory of him was the night of Sunderland’s first relegation from the top division. We had travelled by train to London from Portsmouth where Sunderland’s fate had been sealed. We stayed at Kings Cross’s Great Northern Hotel.
      While some of us downed our sorrows there Stan had just wandered around the West End. When he eventually returned to the hotel he told me just how relegation had hit him. A Horden, County Durham, lad, and a Sunderland fan, it hurt him deeply. Yet he had seen the happy faces of West Ham United players and fans as they arrived back in London from the North-East, knowing their club would take their place in the top grade.
      Happily, I also shared Stan’s joy when, captaining Second Division Sunderland, he scored the two goals which beat First Division Arsenal in the FA Cup at Roker. He was the picture of joy, too, as he celebrated Newcastle’s promotion to the top grade by setting a new fashion–by flinging his shirt to joyous fans at St. James’. While his Dad was a Sunderland fan, his Mum’s family club were the black-and-whites.
      The best tribute he was paid after he left Middlesbrough came from Jack Charlton, who replaced him as Ayresome’s boss. Big Jack said Stan had left him with a good squad of players. I hope Boro fans still appreciate his contribution to their club’s history.


  113. Condolences to his family and close friends. Gone but never forgotten. A lovely man who put all the building blocks in place for what was to be JC’s promotion winning team and who pulled us out of the wilderness of the old third division at the first attempt. RIP Stan and thank you.

  114. Sad news
    Like a lot of people, he was the man in charge when I started going to the game. It was a shame he could never pushbus over the line to the First Division, but he did leave Jack Charlton with one helluva a squad.
    Rest in peace Stan and thank you for being a part of what got me into the Boro in the first place.

  115. Sad news indeed. He made my first season of full time support a memory I’ll never forget. He laid the foundations for Big Jack to provide THE best season ever. Home and dry with seven matches left and numerous records broken.
    Still means more to me than the euphoria of the Riverside Revolution. Am I alone?
    RIP Stan. A true gentleman who gave us a team to be proud of.

    1. You’re not alone Steely. I wasn’t even born then but I know of many who talk about that team in those days with a fondness that McClaren’s Best XI can’t match.

  116. Yes Ian. It would have been fitting if he had got us to Division One. He would then have been remembered as a great Manager.
    Those of us around at the time will always hold him high regard.

  117. Jarsue
    There is an interview with Stan somewhere on you tube, search it.
    I started watching Boro around 58/59, and those wilderness years up untill 1967, were as miserable as you can think of, as usual selling the likes of Clough and Peacock, and replacing them with inferior players,
    Stan put us on course and we got promoted after relegation, remember Oxford.he kept it going and passed it on to Jack,
    RIP Stan and thanks for some great memories.

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